Social Media and Data Privacy in The Netherlands

1. Can the employer restrict the employee’s use of Internet and social media during working hours?

The employer can restrict the use of Internet and social media during working hours by a guideline/code of conduct that states the rules about this usage. The employer must inform the employees about the email and internet-policy within the company. The employer is allowed to check whether these rules are being followed, but the surveillance of private use of internet during work cannot conflict with the employee’s fundamental right of privacy.

If the employer checks this by using investigation equipment, the employees must be informed beforehand about this. If the employer notices a violation, the employee must be informed about this as well. Especially with the new EU Regulation on privacy that entered into effect on the 25th of May 2016, employers must decide in each situation what level of privacy is required.

2. Employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or divulge confidential information

In the Dutch Civil Code it is laid down that an employee may never insult his/her employer. Also, the employee is not allowed to disclose confidential information about the company. In Dutch employment law, a severe insult of the employer or his/her family members, as well as divulging confidential information about the company mat result in an urgent reason for dismissal.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Netherlands, please contact Christiaan Oberman, Partner at Palthe Oberman ( at
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