An important part of human resources management is the responsibility you have for looking after the personal data of employees and others. As someone managing a business with staff, you are in a position of trust and it’s essential you follow the right laws and guidelines to keep data safe and secure. All staff are also responsible for ensuring they act within these rules.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, records that are no longer required but contain sensitive information should be destroyed, and in many cases you are legally required to protect your employees, customers, business associates and others’ rights by disposing of their personal information responsibly. It is considered best practice to make use of professional, confidential shredding services to dispose of these kinds of records appropriately. This ensures you have taken all the necessary steps should any legal issues occur later.
Remember the following legal requirements for data protection and destruction:
- All employee data should be organised and accessible as workers are legally allowed to demand access to whatever you have on record about them. In this case the employer has 40 days to provide the information, unless the data needs to be withheld due to criminal investigation or national security.
- The rules cover information kept on paper records as well as digitally, plus audio and video information (such as recorded phone calls or CCTV footage).
- Data you keep should be accurate and relevant. Recording excessive details that aren’t appropriate for your business may breach the Data Protection Act.
- Information you do need to keep has to be secure and not accessible to other individuals or businesses.
- The Data Protection Act also covers the transfer of information to other countries, and if that country’s own data protection legislation is not considered adequate, the transfer would be against UK law.
Keeping data about employees on your records is essential for many reasons, and has plenty of other benefits. It allows you to make accurate assessments regarding resources, services, performance, punctuality, recruitment, training, equalities and many more areas. However, it is vital that you regularly review the data you keep to check if it is still useful to you and determine whether it meets the legal requirements. If not, it’s time to dispose of the records appropriately and securely.