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EAC fined €40,000 by personal data commissioner

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The personal data commissioner has fined the electricity authority €40,000 for using an automated formula to monitor and manage its employees’ sick leaves after finding it was in violation of privacy laws.

It was not the first time the commissioner slapped a hefty fine on a company for using the Bradford Factor or Bradford Formula.

The formula calculates a score for each employee based on absence patterns.

It is based on the theory that operations in an organisation are more affected by short unplanned absences as compared to long and planned absences.

As in previous cases, the commissioner said the processing lacked a legal foundation since there were no provisions regulating such a system in labour law.

In addition, staff should have the right not to be subjected to a decision that affects them significantly and is made up “of any automated form of personal data processing to assess to assess personal aspects … especially the analysis or prediction of aspects that concern workplace performance,” from the moment that it is not clearly specified in EU or national law.

This is especially applicable when the automated decision making, and profiling is based on particular types of personal data such as the date and frequency of sick leaves.

The EAC decided to implement the system in 2011 after noticing an upward trend in the average number of sick leave taken by staff.

In January last year, the commissioner slapped three companies belonging to the same group, with €82,000 in fines after ruling that their use of the Bradford Formula to monitor and manage the 800 employees’ sick leaves.

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