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Informal talks not contrary to the Danish Health Information Act

July 2009 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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It did not fall within the scope of the Danish Health Information Act when an employee discussed her back problems with her employer

When employers request health-related information from employees, they fall foul of the Danish Health Information Act unless the purpose is to find out if the employee has an illness which may significantly affect their job. It may, however, be difficult to ascertain what information constitutes health information within the meaning of the Act and when an employer will be deemed to have requested such information.

In this case, an employee claimed that her employer's questions about her back problems constituted a breach of the Act.

 

Talks did not fall within the Danish Health Information Act

The questions were asked when the employee returned to work after having been absent because of back problems. She told her employer that the doctors had not yet found the cause of her pain, and they then discussed whether her back problems could be alleviated by a new chair.

Shortly after that, the employee called in sick again, and the employer dismissed her. In her opinion, the talks about her back problems constituted a breach of the Act and she therefore sued her employer.

The Court was not convinced that the talks, which had taken place at the employee's initiative, meant that the employer had requested health information within the meaning of the Danish Health Information Act. Furthermore, the fact that the employee suffered from severe back problems was of significant importance to her employment and the employer was not prevented by the Act from asking about those problems. Against that background, noting that questions about how a diagnosed condition will develop fall outside the scope of the Act, the Court was not satisfied that the employer had breached the Act.

 

Norrbom Vinding notes: 

  • that the case establishes that informal talks between an employee and an employer about the employee's illness, including whether technical aids may help the employee, are not as such contrary to the Danish Health Information Act

Michael Elof Nielsen
men@norrbomvinding.com

www.norrbomvinding.com