“Employers hold a vast amount of information about their employees, including their age, race, ID number, contact details, union membership and information about their health.   When proposed data protection legislation, the Protection of Personal Information Bill, is enacted, employers will have to significantly change how they collect, store, use and communicate employee personal information”.

This passage is taken from an important and informative article Bill aims to keep personal data safe at work appearing in Business Day today written by Kate Staude, a senior associate at attorneys Webber Wentzel (where the writer did his articles of clerkship from 1964-1966).

As pointed out by Kate Staude employees will gain the right to:

  • object to the employer processing their personal information;
  • request details of any personal information; and
  • insist that certain personal information be deleted or corrected.

Certain principles will govern the lawful processing of personal information according to Kate Staude, including:

  • Fair and lawful processing of personal information.
  • Collection of personal information for a specific purpose only.
  • Personal information must be complete, not misleading, up-to-date and accurate.

It is also recommended in the article that employers place a positive duty on employees to update their information in the human resources department should there be a change to their personal information.

After discussing a number of important issues affecting the working relationship it is concluded that employers should obtain the written consent of employees to cover all uses of personal information and that employers compile “a comprehensive list of purposes for processing employee personal information as part of a data protection audit”.