Temp agencies routinely violate privacy rights: report

Randstad (Photo: Michael Frey/Wikimedia Commons)Randstad (Photo: Michael Frey/Wikimedia Commons)

Randstad and Adecco, two of the largest Dutch temporary employment agencies, violate the privacy laws of their workers at different points.

This conclusion was drawn by the College for personal data protection (CBP) in a report they published today. According to CBP, agencies are sloppy with copies of identity documents and medical records of temporary workers.

Randstad recorded, among other things, medical data and the wearing of headscarves. Adecco illegally sent passport copies to clients, which could lead to abuse. Both companies acquire copies of workers' identity documents at a too early stage, and store their data much longer than is allowed.

CBP finds the unnecessary copying and storing of identity documents risky because it can lead to identity fraud. With a copy of a passport, someone can take on a different identity and claim all kinds of rights. The temporary employment agencies record the identity data of workers after the intake interviews, and not after work was found at a client, as it should be. Because proof of identity also includes racial data such as photos and nationality, it is theoretically possible to make selections based on that.

In a sample it showed that Randstad registered the wearing of headscarves in 12 cases. According to a spokesperson of Randstad, that was an exception, not the rule. The spokesperson also said that all branches have stopped doing this and internal controls have been tightened.

According to the agencies, the registration of proof of identity is harder to change. Once a temp goes to work at a company, the wage tax Act requires the submission of a copy of the identity document. "It is unworkable to get it done quickly at that time", the Randstad spokesperson said. "CBP says" let the employees upload it themselves. But how do we then know for certain that they are not committing fraud? Therefore we already obtain it at the mediation discussion, so we know for sure that the candidate may work in the Netherlands. We are caught between two laws."

Director Jurrien Koops of temporary employment trade association ABU finds the privacy rules outdated. According to him they were made for a regular labor market, where people calmly apply, have a discussion with the company and then hand in their forms. "It no longer works like that with temp workers. Every day we mediate with about two thousand temporary workers. We must not only be careful towards the employee, but also towards the client."

The association is in discussions with the Ministry regarding a so called flex-test, in which legislation is tested on modern, flexible labor relations.