Data and Covid

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has set out some important guidance which employers should read, relating to the use of personal information.

Employers had to react quickly to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic to keep staff and customers safe. As the government has now relaxed Covid-19 measures, employers must take the time to review the emergency policies and procedures to ensure that the information that they have been collecting is still necessary.

The ICO suggests that organisations should ask:

  • How will still collecting extra personal information help keep your workplace safe?
  • Do you still need the information previously collected?
  • Could you achieve your desired result without collecting personal information?

There is useful guidance on issues such as the retention of information and whether employers can still collect vaccination information.

The ICO states that:

'If you are continuing to collect vaccination information, you must be clear about what you are trying to achieve and how asking people for their vaccination status helps to achieve this. Your use of this data must be fair, relevant and necessary for a specific purpose. You should check government guidance which has been published for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you wish to collect this information, there must be a compelling reason for you to do so.'

Data protection is one of a number of factors to consider when thinking about collecting this information. You should also take into account:

  • employment law and your contracts with employees (if you are considering checking employees' Covid statuses)
  • health and safety requirements
  • equalities and human rights, including privacy rights.

This is a complex and risky area for employers and taking specialist employment and data protection advice may be a good investment.

Contact us if you would like to discuss any employment or data protection matter.

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