Anyone can make a subject access request (SAR) from an organisation to ask whether and how the business is processing their personal information. In the employment sphere, SARs can also be used as a missile by an otherwise dissatisfied employee, often in preparation for bringing a grievance or an employment tribunal claim. SARs can be time consuming to deal with and, with fines of up to 20 million euro or 4 per cent of annual turnover for getting it wrong, expensive to mess up.
Last month, the Information Commissioner’s Office published detailed new guidance to help businesses deal with SARs effectively and efficiently. The guidance deals with three key points:
- stopping the clock when clarification is needed – this is possible if clarification of the request is genuinely required and the organisation processes a lot of information about that employee.
- what is a ‘manifestly excessive’ request – one you may not have to comply with.
- charging fees (i.e. for the cost of staff time, printing, postage etc) for excessive or unfounded (which can include repeat) requests.
All this is good news to businesses who are already juggling many more important balls due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ICO is also creating a simplified SAR guide for small businesses which picks out the most important points from the detailed guidance. Find the Rights of Access guidance and other helpful materials at www.ico.org.uk.
Find out how we can help. Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department. Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.