New code is too long and leaves many questions unanswered, say employers.
The Data Protection Code is intended to offer guidance to employers on the use of employees' personal data. Unfortunately, it has raised more questions than it has answered.
Employers have angrily lobbied the Data Protection Commissioner Elizabeth France in response to the Government's proposals on the draft code of practice.
About 100 UK employers expressed their views on the draft version of the code during the three-month consultation period, which ended at the beginning of January (News, 16 January).
Many HR professionals contacted by Personnel Today are unsure about both the detail and the possible impact of the code once it is published in April.
Nicola Smith, personnel officer for Vickers Defence System, said, "The amount of work needed to implement the requirements will provide an administrative burden for employers.
"There is a lack of definition of key terms within the data protection code and this needs to be reviewed. I don't think there has been enough consultation for this document either."
But employers will not be able to avoid it, and breaches of the code could land them in trouble.
David Beswick, partner at law firm Eversheds, said tribunals and courts would take into account a company's adherence to the code and would not look favourably on those firms that had broken it.
Beswick said, "This code will have the same status as codes under other acts, such as the Disability Discrimination Act."
The application of the code will also depend on the interpretation of the Data Protection Commissioner.
Ellen Temperton, partner at law firm Baker McKenzie, said, "It is unclear how Elizabeth will use the code. At first she is likely to recommend remedial solutions and then she is likely to escalate her actions if there is continued infringement of the code."
The code highlights what