European Data Protection Supervisor
European Data Protection Supervisor

Evaluation of staff

Evaluation of staff

Staff evaluation procedures (annual appraisal, probation, promotion)


What you should know about staff evaluation procedures?

The performance and abilities of staff are subject to several assessments during the course of their careers, such as an evaluation at the end of a probation period and annual appraisals to review career development (for example, promotion, demotion or dismissal). The personal data (also known as personal information) processed in this context are usually collected in the form of reports which are in part completed by the member of staff concerned and the remainder by their superiors. Organisations sometimes use information from a variety of sources in their review of staff such as 360-degree feedback, which involves the evaluation of an employee's behavior from a variety of points of view (subordinates, peers, and supervisors).


What are the main data protection issues?

Data quality - It is important not to process more personal data than necessary. How? By ensuring that only the relevant information necessary to complete that procedure is collected in the first place (for example, nationality, date of birth; details of previous education may be considered excessive for the purposes of an annual appraisal). Moreover, information intended to evaluate staff consist largely of subjective judgments of their professional performance. It is therefore difficult to assess the accuracy of such information, which is why the member of staff concerned must receive her evaluation report and have the opportunity to add her own comments, as well as make use of appeal procedures.

Retention period - Organisations must often keep personal information on file for certain purposes. However, it is against the law to keep such information indefinitely, so organisations must make sure that information relating to staff evaluation is not kept on file for longer than necessary.

Rights of access and rectification - The rectification of factual data processed for evaluation purposes (contact details, position, grade, seniority, etc.) must be possible upon the request of the member of staff concerned. As it is impossible to rectify the (by nature) subjective evaluation data, the member of staff must make use of the official appeal procedures.

Right of information - Members of staff must be informed about their rights and about the purposes of processing their personal data during any given evaluation procedure. To this end, a data protection clause should be included in report forms, application forms and/or messages sent to staff during the course of a procedure. In addition, a data protection notice or privacy statement should be available to staff at any time, for example on the organisation's intranet pages.


More information

The following is a non-exhaustive selection for further reading:

EDPS Guidelines
EDPS Guidelines on processing of personal data in the area of staff evaluation

EDPS prior check opinions

EDPS Opinion on 360° multisource feedback exercise tool at the European Central Bank (Case 2015-0772)
EDPS Opinion on the individual performance indicators for the annual evaluation of staff members at the Community Plant Variety Office (Case 2016-0417)
EDPS Opinion on staff performance at European Investment Fund (Case 2014-1141)
EDPS Opinion on HR needs analysis at OLAF (Case 2014-0012)
EDPS Opinion on the underperformance procedure at the European Central Bank (Case 2013-0892)
EDPS letter to the EU Commission regarding staff evaluation (unsatisfactory performance) (Case 2013-1274)


Related topics:

Selection and recruitment of staff