Obligation to provide the works council with salary data does not allow for anonymized lists

Under the Works Constitution Act, the works council has a right to access information regarding the gross salary of employees. Such information is provided to the works council in form of a chart including relevant compensation details. In a case decided by the Higher Regional Labour Court of North Rhine Westphalia – Hamm – (judgment dated 19 September 2017, docket number 7 TaBV 43/17), the employer had, after initial disagreement, provided the works council with a list containing compensation data, however in anonymized form. The works council requested a de-anonymized list, matching the relevant compensation data with the employee name. The court held that the works council had a right to be provided with a de-anonymized overview, as the works council could not be expected to investigate each employee name individually. The court also held that a list including the relevant employee names did not cause data privacy concerns. Constitutional rights, if any, of employees were also found to be unsuitable to justify the employer’s position towards the works council. The court also confirmed that an employer’s obligation under the Remuneration Transparency Act to produce lists including employee compensation data, which allows for anonymized form, did not limit the works council’s information right.