Whilst HR professionals are used to handling data and data subject access requests, the General Data Protection Regulations will completely overhaul the way in which data is collected, stored and processed.
Significantly, HR professionals will need to gain explicit and unambiguous consent to process employee data and should take the opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate to the wider business how to handle customer and client data.
Before staff can be expected to understand the implications of GDPR, training will be imperative. Staff will need to be trained on all data protection policies and procedures and HR will no doubt be instrumental in implementing and delivering this training after the 25th May if they haven't already done so.
Staff will need to understand their role when it comes to handling data and grasp the extent of the repercussions if they fail to adhere to the new regulations. Indeed all data breaches will need to be disclosed to the supervisory authority within 72 hours and the penalties for data breaches are significant.
HR professionals will need to explain the implications of the new data rights and ensure that staff understand that customers and clients will not only need to give their explicit consent for their data to be processed and stored, but that they have the right:
- To be informed
- To access their data
- To rectify their data; and
- The right to be forgotten.
The rules on data subject access requests have also changed and data controllers will now have to respond to these requests within one month and no longer have the scope to charge an administration fee. This revision together with the abolition of employment tribunal fees is likely to mean an increase in the number of data subject access requests that data controllers receive.
HR professionals should have now audited employee data and begun analysing the data to ascertain whether it is actually necessary. Whilst some data may be essential, it is likely that some data will be superfluous and it should, therefore, be deleted or at least amended so that it accurately reflects the information.
Unless there are grounds for retaining data, once it has fulfilled its purpose, data should be deleted.
HR professionals should have revisited their data protection practices detailed in employment contracts, staff handbooks and company policies and ensure that the business is GDPR ready and compliant.