Requiring remote workers to keep webcam on is illegal, Dutch court rules

10 Oct 2022

Image: © Nikolay/

Citing a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, a Dutch court ruled in favour of an employee who refused to keep his camera on.

A Dutch court has ruled that a remote employee who was fired from a US company for refusing to keep his webcam on during the work day should be awarded around €75,000, citing human rights concerns.

Court documents show that the unnamed employee, who worked remotely for Florida-based software company Chetu as a telemarketer, was dismissed from his job in August for “refusal to work” and “insubordination”. This came after he told the company he was “not comfortable” being monitored at work through his webcam.

The requirement to keep his webcam on during work was part of a training programme made effective in August. It required him and other employees to keep cameras on and share screens during the entire workday.

“I don’t feel comfortable being monitored for nine hours a day by a camera. This is an invasion of my privacy and makes me feel really uncomfortable,” court documents quote the employee saying. “You can already monitor all activities on my laptop, and I am sharing my screen.”

The Dutch court found the decision to fire the Netherland-based employee illegal on human rights grounds.

It quoted a 2017 judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which considered that “video surveillance of an employee in the workplace, be it covert or not, must be considered as a considerable intrusion into the employee’s private life”.

The ECHR said at the time that such video surveillance interferes with Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

“Camera surveillance for nine hours a day is disproportionate and not allowed in the Netherlands,” the Dutch court ruled.

As first reported by NL Times, it ordered Chetu to pay up to €75,000 to the employee, which includes unpaid salary, damages for wrongful termination of contract, worker transition assistance and additional compensation.

Chetu was also required to pay the employee for 23 annual leave days that had not been taken, an 8pc statutory holiday allowance and more than €500 for court costs and legal fees.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic