Employment law

Privacy data protection

Your employer has a legal duty to handle sensitive information about you fairly and securely. If this hasn't happened, particularly with regards to disciplinary matters or dismissal, you may need to seek legal advice.

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Employment law solicitors

Slater and Gordon's experienced solicitors are here to advise you on all aspects of data protection at work. Call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we'll call you.

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Is my employer playing fair with my data?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into force on 25 May 2018. This replaced the Data Protection Act but may yet be superseded by a new UK Data Protection Act in the event that the UK leaves the EU.

Yet whichever piece of legislation you refer to, there are six common principles that organisations need to follow when collecting, processing and storing individuals' personal data. They are that:

  • Personal data should be processed fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner
  • Data should be obtained for specified and lawful purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes
  • The data should be adequate, relevant and not excessive and therefore limited to what is necessary in relation to the purpose for which they are processed
  • The data should be accurate and where necessary kept up to date
  • Data should not be kept for longer than necessary
  • Data should be kept secure and, it is required that in the processing of personal data, appropriate security is ensured

In addition to these responsibilities, current data protection legislation also gives employees a number of rights. Arguably the most important of these is the right to see any and all data that your employer holds about you. If you're concerned about what sort of personal information your employer has about you, the law states that it must give you access to this data within one month of receiving the request unless your employer has grounds to extend its response time by up to two further months if the request is complex.

What sort of information does my employer have?

You might be surprised to learn how much information your employer holds about you, covering everything from your address and bank details to your medical history, sexual orientation and racial background. It's perfectly legal for them to hold this information; but there are some restrictions about the purposes they can use this information for, and how long they're allowed to hold it after you've left their employment.

Does it help me to access my personal data?

You've a legal right to know that your sensitive personal information is being held securely and used fairly. It's also good to know how much of your personal history you can be forced to disclose when you first apply for a job. For example, an application form may ask you about your criminal record. If you have one, but it's considered 'spent' because enough time has passed since your sentence, you probably don't need to declare it. You can find out more about this on the Government's website.

However, the most likely reason that you might request access to the personal information your employer holds about you is that you're either undergoing disciplinary proceedings or have already been dismissed. Even once you've left an employment, you still have the legal right to ask for access to all of the data that is held about you, which should include details of any disciplinary action as well as the reasons for your dismissal.

If you believe that you've been unfairly dismissed and your employer won't give you access to this data, you may wish to speak to one of our experienced employment solicitors about making a Subject Access Request. Call us on 0330 041 5869or contact us and we'll call you.

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