Employee references and the Data Protection Act

The Information Commissioner’s Office has produced a guide to help employers understand how the Data Protection Act applies to employee references.

The guide, which is one of a series designed to make data protection simpler, also includes good practice recommendations to help employers decide when employment references should and should not be released.

The guidance says that in most cases individuals have a right to a copy of information held about them and warns that employers who refuse to provide it may be in breach of the Act. However, if there is confidential information in a reference then an exemption may apply.

Phil Jones, assistant commissioner, said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office has received a number of enquiries from employers and employees in relation to references. 

“I hope this guide will provide answers to some of these questions and clarify when employment references should be released in order to comply with the Data Protection Act.”

For a copy of the guide visit      www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/eventual.aspx?id=7496


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