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Employee Data Privacy in Panama Legislation

Panamanian labour legislation does not provide specific regulations regarding the collection, use and/or handling of an employee’s personal data.

Nevertheless, Panama is a signatory to the Convention on Human Rights and, in that sense, the use and/or handling of personal data is protected by Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Panama, establishing that private documents cannot be used or examined except by virtue of a written order from a competent authority, for specific purposes and through legal formalities.

The Labour Code of Panama also establishes, in article 128, point 6, that one of the obligations of employers is to give employees “proper treatment,” implying that employers must refrain from performing acts that may affect their employees’ dignity. As dignity is a subjective value, a judge may consider that revealing personal data without written and express consent may violate the dignity of an employee.

Although, there is no legal or mandatory requirement having a liability release in order to deal with an employee’s personal data, some companies may have an internal ethics code or an internal body of rules that may require having such a document, as a best practice technique.

Regarding the time during which employers must keep the records of information about the employees, the Panamanian Labour Code establishes that administrative authorities shall not require written proof of payment of wages from an employer after five years, counted from the date on which the payment was made.

Nevertheless, the Social Security Organic Law establishes that legal action to require the collection of social security contributions has a statute of limitation of 20 years. Therefore, it is highly recommended that employers maintain employees’ payroll, tax, and social security records for at least 20 years.

For the foregoing legal provisions with regard to the collection, use and/or handling of personal data in the Panamanian jurisdiction, it is highly recommended for employers to obtain prior written and express authorization from applicants/employees in order to avoid civil or criminal penalties, due to the fact that although there is no specific regulation regarding employee personal data in Panama, there are regulations that provide a certain level of protection.

Author(s)

Lourdes Bishop

Partner

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