Mintz Levin’s Immigration Law Blog is running a series titled “Innocents Abroad” addressing issues in an increasingly globalized economy where employers assign employees all over the globe.
These are big questions, reflecting some of the practical concerns in our international marketplace. The series focuses on the well-intentioned Global HR Director, Ned Help, who will raise hot topics and difficulties his company faces when sending their employees abroad. We will then explore the common pitfalls and offer practical solutions to the difficulties Ned Help faces. This month’s edition: Privacy Considerations – follow the rest of the series at Innocents Abroad.
From: Carrie Counselor
To: Ned Help
Date: May 24, 2016
RE: Privacy considerations for employees working abroad
I understand that one of your employees will be engaging a six-month temporary assignment around Europe to scope market opportunities, and you’d like to have a better understanding of what to be thinking about in terms of privacy. Great question! This is an area where many employers struggle because other jurisdictions protect privacy and personal data quite differently than we do here in the United States.
Generally speaking, federal and state laws applicable to employee information do not have “extraterritorial” effect beyond the information that remains in the United States, meaning that American employees working abroad (even temporarily) will not benefit from US legal protections with respect to personal information collected, stored or transmitted outside of the country.
What makes this area of the law particularly crucial and daunting for employers is that non-US countries frequently offer greater protections to employees and establish far higher compliance obligations on the part of employers. Of particular concern for you should be the data protection landscape across the European Economic Area (referred to as the “EEA,” encompassing all European Union (EU) Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) because each country has passed its own set of national laws governing the collection, use, retention and transmission of personal data. Companies must consider these local laws before electronically monitoring an employee outside the United States or transferring an employee’s personal information back home. Let’s talk specifics: Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Privacy Considerations for Employers