The Information Commission’s long awaited code of practice on recruitment is
too long and complex to help HR professionals comply with the law, according to
The Recruitment and Selection Code of Practice, finally released last week,
is the first of four codes aimed at helping businesses understand and comply
with the Data Protection Act.
The code outlines employers’ responsibilities concerning the handling of
personal data related to the recruitment process such as the retention of
interview notes and the disposal of records on people’s salaries from previous
But the CIPD and the CBI claim that the code does not spell out the
difference between legal compliance and best practice for HR departments.
Diana Sinclair, employee relations advisor at the CIPD, commented: "It
is 13,500 words and 56 pages which is still too long. It would have made a
bigger impact if it were more concise.
"In the current state the code is confusing. A shorter code should have
been produced stating what had to be complied with by law. And then best
practice guidelines should be issued separately."
Susannah Haan, CBI legal advisor, said the Information Commission has failed
to make the final code clear for employers.
"The benchmark section is slightly confusing as some are legally
binding and others are just good practice.
"In its current state the only people who will read it are the
lawyers," she said.
Bruce Warman, personnel director at Vauxhall, said:"My first reaction
is that it (the code) is too complicated. It is far too comprehensive and very
difficult. It’s not user friendly."
Assistant Information Commissioner David Smith, responded: "We
consulted widely and are confident that it is easier to implement for HR
practitioners. The code is relevant to HR practice and the Data Protection
Recruitment and Selection Code
What the HR profession must do to comply
– Make a staff member responsible for
– Make serious data protection breaches a disciplinary offence
– Only request data about an applicant that is relevant to
– Ensure job applicants sign a consent if documents are needed
from a third party
– Inform applicants if automated short-listing system is the
sole basis of decision
– Retain interview notes
– Establish a retention period for recruitment records based on
– Destroy information an individual’s recruitment within 6
– Dispose of salary information from previous employers
– Only ask for sensitive personal data for successful applicants