Opinion of 26 February 2009 on a notification for prior checking regarding ETF - Flexitime procedure (Case 2008-697)
The European Training Foundation (ETF) has implemented a Flexitime system using RFID technology to ensure equal and fair treatment on a flexible working approach with a view to supporting staff to better conciliate work and private life. The procedure is implemented in a guide to Flexitime of the Agency.
The Flexitime system is not to be confused with any access control system. Although one common badge is used both for the entry to the building and for Flexitime, the Flexitime readers and the access control readers are separate machines. The Flexitime system is based on a Lotus database and is linked to other applications such as SIC Leave and SIC Mission.
There is no reason to believe that there is a breach of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001, given that the ETF implements specific recommendations. These deal, among others, with the modification of the conservation period for data relating to audit trail, the introduction of a procedure by which the blocking of data could be ensured in case of complaint, the introduction of stronger security measures on the card and the reconsideration by ETF of its technological choice in terms of security.
Opinion of 4 May 2009 on a notification for prior checking concerning "ETF annual dialogue" (Case 2009-168)
This notification concerns the processing of personal data in the exercise of yearly evaluation of staff members of ETF.
The EDPS made recommendations in particular relating to data retention period, the right of blocking and the privacy statement to be given to the data subjects
Opinion of 22 April 2010 on a notification for prior checking regarding the processing operations to manage calls for tenders (Case 2009-0037)
ETF manages calls for tenders in the context of which personal data are processed. The purpose of the data processing is to evaluate the professional capacity of the individuals mentioned in each tender. The EDPS suggested, among others, that ETF:
Opinion of 21 June 2007 on the notification for prior checking regarding ETF's time recording system (Case 2007-209)
The Notification concerns ETF's electronic time recording system. The time recording exercise requires staff members to account for the use of their time spent at work by entering the hours worked and the activity carried out during those hours in a time-keeping database. The system is operated under the management of ETF’s Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Unit ("PMEU"). It is designed to enhance ETF’s capacity to plan, monitor, and account for the deployment of its human resources against strategic and operational planned objectives.
While designed for these purposes, there was a possibility that the database could also be used for performance evaluation. Therefore, the EDPS paid special attention to ensure that a number of his key recommendations are taken into account. When commenting on the draft EDPS Opinion, ETF already noted that some of these recommendations have already been or will be implemented. Some key recommendations related to data quality and purpose limitation. The EDPS emphasized that the procedures for the exercise must be revised to ensure a higher level of accuracy, reliability, and consistency of the data. Even after such changes are implemented, ETF management must clearly and explicitly recognize the limitations of the reliability of the data to inform decisions that may individually affect data subjects. Therefore, data included in the database should only be used as one of several, only informative, rather than decisive, factors to be considered in the decision-making process. For the same reason, the database, on the individual level, can only be used for purposes directly relevant for the management of a specific project. In particular, the database cannot be used for purposes of performance appraisal, promotion, or assessing contract renewal, and the use of the database should not lead to dismissal, exclusion from contract renewals, promotion, or training opportunities, exclusion when tasks are allocated or team leaders and managers are selected, or to other similar prejudices to staff members. This does not mean that staff members who are unable to account for a productive use of their time cannot be dismissed or excluded when tasks are distributed. However, these decisions must be made based on information other than data in the database.
The EDPS also made important recommendations regarding the recipients. He noted that access to the database must be clearly limited on a need-to-know basis. In particular, access of the head of unit of the PMEU and his staff must not include access to individual data. Conservation periods must also be strictly limited to what is necessary to achieve the purpose of the processing operation. Only aggregate data should be retained for the five-year period provided for in ETF's Financial Regulation. As far as information to data subjects is concerned, the information provided to data subjects must be supplemented with reference to the right of recourse to the EDPS. In addition, communication of the purposes and uses of the database must be improved. The EDPS especially emphasises the importance of clear specification of any limitations on such uses.
Opinion of 13 June 2007 on a notification for prior checking regarding ETF's competence inventory (Case 2006-437)
This opinion is on the "competence inventory" exercise of the European Training Foundation (ETF) was issued. This complex exercise serves to create a very detailed database listing all relevant competences of each employee. It involves self-assessment, peer-review and moderation by a panel to ensure consistency throughout the ETF. The primary purpose is to obtain aggregate data for strategic management purposes such as to identify competence gaps and adjust recruitment and training polices accordingly.
The EDPS concluded that there are doubts on the proportionality of the establishment of the database and the data quality. For these reasons, the EDPS recommended that ETF reconsiders the necessity of carrying out the competence inventory exercise and look for less intrusive alternatives.
In any event, the EDPS insisted that the database should not result in a parallel performance evaluation system and ETF's management must clearly and explicitly recognise the limitations of the reliability of the data to inform decisions that individually affect data subjects, for example, assessment of applications for internal mobility. Therefore, the data should never be used for pre-selection or exclusion, but only as one of several sources to inform decision-making. Similarly, the competence inventory should not be used for performance appraisal, promotion or assessing contract renewal. Moreover, use of the database should not lead to dismissal, exclusion when tasks are allocated or team leaders and managers are selected, or to similar prejudices to staff members.