Employers face spot checks over use of staff data

Employers will face spot checks over their handling of staff data by the
Information Commission.

It is to nearly double the number of its staff to 300 as part of a tough new
enforcement regime.

The commission currently only investigates organisations after receiving
complaints but a special enforcement team is being set up to ensure employers
are complying with their responsibilities in handling staff information under
the 1998 Data Protection Act.

The team will initially focus on firms’ corporate websites, then turn to HR
departments’ handling of personal data next year.

Assistant information commissioner David Smith said the checks would start
with a sample of the country’s top 100 companies. "We are looking to be
more proactive and will set up an enforcement team," he said.

Peter Carey of solicitors Charles Russell, believes the move will have
serious implications for HR. "Organisations must take action now," he

Publication of the controversial monitoring code, which will include
guidance on employer access to personal e-mails, has been delayed until

The codes on recruitment and records management have been published. Further
guidance on compliance could be released next year after the commission has
carried out research on problem areas.


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