(embarrassing) photos from the Christmas drink: these are your rights

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In a few weeks, it will be time for Christmas drinks again. Many companies use this moment to take photos to share on the intranet or internally. The idea being it is fun for people to look back on the event. But what if you are not looking your best? Perhaps you’ve had a few too many or just pulled a funny face. Or maybe you simply dislike having your photo on the intranet.

(embarrassing) photos from the Christmas drink: these are your rights
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

The question is, of course, whether an employer may publish your photo. I asked lawyer Kim Hendriks of Hendriks Meesteradvies how this exactly works…

Kim, what about photos from the Christmas party? Can an employer just take photographs and put them on the intranet?

“I know it’s a very common thing to do, and most people won’t have a problem with it. But an employer cannot just do it. As an employer, you must have a written record of who has given permission. Otherwise, you are not complying with the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation (EU). And so you are breaking the law if you don’t do this.”

Does an employer need to check with everyone before the Christmas drink if they agree to their photo being put on the intranet?

“No, that is not necessary. As an employer, it is wise to have every new employee fill out a form regarding how you plan to use photos. You must make a distinction on the form between the use of a photo in, for example, the directory on the intranet and company parties and outings such as Christmas drinks. If you want to post photographs of employees on social media or use them for other advertising purposes, you must also ask for permission.

The different ways you intend to use photos need to be broken down so people can choose what they do or don’t give permission to. It does not matter whether it is the intranet, an internal drive, or a public website. As an employer, you must always ask permission.”

Imagine that you have given permission, but you suddenly see a very embarrassing photo of yourself on the intranet. Is there anything you can do?

“Of course. You can revoke the permission. You can do this in its entirety so that all photos that contain you must be removed. But you can also choose to withdraw your permission for one photo. Then only this photo needs to be deleted.

If you want this, you must submit a written request. This can be done by e-mail. The employer must respond within four weeks, including justification if they do not want to remove the photo. In most cases, there is no legal basis to keep a photo, so it must be removed.”

In short, you do not have to stress if you are worried about embarrassing photos. In the worst case, all you need to do is send an email. Or have one drink less 🙂



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