LEGAL & FINANCE: Firms to Pay Price for Data Protection Laws
Byline: John Duckers
The cost of complying with data protection legislation will place a significant drain on West Midlands businesses, according to law firm Eversheds.
The latest guidance on the Data Protection Act shows that compliance will be a time-intensive task for employers and some organisations might have to go as far as appointing somebody to take responsibility for managing the legislation.
Kay Chapman, specialist in data protection legislation at Eversheds' Birmingham office, said: 'This part of the data protection legislation aims to balance an employer's need to keep records and a worker's right to privacy. The guidance provides advice on dealing with employment records and establishing how personal data on workers should be used. 'Employers will be legally obliged to inform workers about the personal information they hold. They will also have to tell their staff the reason for holding information and will not be able to use it for another purpose without making the worker aware.
'For example, if an employer suspected a worker of making fraudulent expense claims and wished to use the expenses records as evidence, they would have to let the worker know in advance that this information might be used in a disciplinary situation. Otherwise they might face the possibility of being challenged over an improper use of records.'
The legislation creates a particular problem for the credibility of employee referencing in the future.
In the guidance, the Information Commissioner advises that an employee can see references written about them, even if they have been given in the strictest of confidence and may contain negative information. …