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COMPLYING WITH THE DATA PROTECTION ACT

NEW guidance has been published to help employers deal with requests to disclose information under data protection rules.

Under the Data Protection Act, anyone has the right to find out what information is held about them by an organisation. It doesn’t matter if they are a private company, and whether the request is from an employee or even a customer.

If a request to disclose the information is made, the organisation only usually has 40 days to comply, and the most they can charge is £10, even if collating and copying the information is going to cost far more.

Data Protection Act Requests for Disclosure

The number of requests for disclosure has increased each year and so has the number of complaints made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who adjudicate on whether the law has been complied with. Last year they handled more than 6000 complaints.

ICO Code of Practice

The ICO has now published a Code of Practice on what companies have to disclose to their staff or their customers. Not all information held has to be disclosed, as there are important exemptions to the general rule of disclosure. This includes information about references, tax matters, legal advice the company has obtained, and “management information”, such as financial projections.

However, failure to disclose the relevant information, or disclosing information which should not have been released, can result in a criminal conviction and a fine – in January 2013, Sony were fined £250,000 and in August 2013 the Bank of Scotland fined £75,000 for sending out information by fax to the wrong number.

Employment Lawyers For Data Protection Legal Advice Glasgow

*The Glasgow Law Practice advises employers and individuals on their rights and responsibilities under data protection law. Contact ss@theglasgowlawpractice.co.uk