The use of personal data at work can be a sensitive issue. This summary provides an invaluable guide to the key features of the new draft Code of Practice on Data Protection. By Joan Lewis and Linda Goldman
The new Data Protection draft code of practice covers a very wide range of standards and best practice on the use of personal data at work. This summary sets out examples of some of the key areas of particular interest to OH professionals. Our aim is to highlight the importance of this new code that is set to come into force later this year.
A full copy of the code should be obtained from the Data Protection Commissioner so that any necessaryfull-action plans can be made by management, human resources and OH departments.
The code, which is a large document, is useful as a general human resources and OH guide. It proposes a more restrictive approach than is apparent from the 1998 Act itself and indeed from the new Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIP) and the Telecommunication (Lawful Business Practice) Regulations 2000.
The code refers throughout to "employees" but makes special provision for contract and agency staff so that the same standards apply.
The table provides examples from the code. It gives a flavour of the wide range of standards covered by the draft that will have a direct effect on OH policies and practice.
Discipline and dismissal
Matters of discipline and dismissal are not set out in the table as these come within the ambit of all record keeping, particularly with reference to data being obtained and used fairly and lawfully (Principle 1). Also, retention of records of former employees is covered in most other areas of record-keeping. The recommended time limits for keeping old records are shown below.
Application form and duration of employment
- References received - 1 year
- Payment and tax information - 6 years
- Sickness records - 3 years
- Annual leave records - 2 years
- Unpaid or other special leave records - 3 years
- Appraisal or assessment records - 5 years