Do's and don'ts for contact tracing by employers

Published Jun 24, 2020


DURBAN- As from June 1, the country moved to disaster alert level 3 which saw most businesses reopening.

In developing and implementing their return to work strategies, companies are expected to conduct contact tracing and submit to the government the data of employees who have tested positive for Covid-19, and any other persons whom they may have exposed to the virus.

Nozipho Mngomezulu, partner at Webber Wentzel has cautioned employers that they must be careful not to infringe unlawfully on their employees’ constitutionally-entrenched right to privacy and should ensure that their procedures comply with relevant data protection and surveillance laws.

“We recommend businesses ensure that they are aware of legal issues that touch on contact tracing and the further disclosure of contact tracing information and implement systems and procedures to address these legal issues. This will enable businesses to carry out their obligations on contact tracing without fear of their actions being called into question,” she said.

The do’s which employers should take into account when undertaking contact tracing:

Ensure minimal collection

: Only collect data that is necessary to track and trace Covid-19 cases do not collect unnecessary data.

Keep employees informed

: Let employees know why the collection is necessary and how it is being stored.

Restrict access to data

: Ensure that the data collected is only accessed by authorised individuals.

De-identify data

: Where possible, de-identify data in a way that prevents its reconstruction.

Conduct frequent reviews of data processing activities

: Appoint an individual responsible for monitoring data collection activities and frequently reviewing the internal processes and procedures applicable to contact tracing.

And the don’ts:

Unfairly discriminate

: Do not use data that is collected to unfairly discriminate against an employee.

Monetise the data

: Do not sell or otherwise give the employee data to any marketers.

Do not share data with third parties

: Do not share any employee data with authorities that is not strictly required by law to be shared.

Repurpose data

: Do not use data that is collected for tracing activities for any other purpose, even after the national state of disaster has ended

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