Obligation to apply for and use a signature card

An employer may require his employee to apply for a qualified electronic signature and to use an electronic signature card if this is necessary for the performance of work and is reasonable for the employee. The plaintiff is employed as an administrative employee at the Cuxhaven Water and Shipping Authority. Her duties include the publication of invitations to tender in award procedures. Since 1 January 2010, these publications have only been made in electronic form on the federal award platform. A qualified electronic signature is required for use, which, according to the provisions of the Signature Act (SigG), is only granted to natural persons. The defendant then instructed the plaintiff to apply for such a qualified signature at a certification authority provided for by the SigG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. For this purpose, the data contained in the identity card must be transmitted to the certification authority for the purpose of establishing identity. The costs for the application are borne by the employer. The plaintiff took the view that the employer could not oblige her to transmit her personal data to third parties; this would violate her right to informational self-determination. It was also not guaranteed that her data would not be misused. The Labour Court and the Regional Labour Court dismissed the action. The plaintiff's appeal to the Tenth Senate was unsuccessful. The defendant made appropriate use of its right to issue instructions under the employment contract (§ 106 GewO). The encroachment on the plaintiff's right to informational self-determination associated with the obligation to use an electronic signature card was reasonable. The transmission of the identity card data only concerns the external sphere of privacy; particularly sensitive data are not affected. The protection of this data is ensured by the provisions of the SigG; it is only used by the certification authority. The use of the signature card also does not give rise to any particular risks for the applicant. For example, the service agreement concluded with the staff council expressly contains a release from liability; the data obtained may not be used by the employer to monitor performance and conduct.

Judgment of the Federal Labour Court of 25 September 2013 - 10 AZR 270/12

Previous instance: Regional Labour Court of Lower SaxonyJudgement of 12 September 2011 - 8 Sa 355/11 -


Source: Press release of the Federal Labour Court


Goldberg Attorneys at Law 2013

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law (IT law)

E-mail: info@goldberg.de