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Information watchdog calls for views on employment practices and data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a call for views as it looks to update its Employment Practices guidance.

In a blog entry, Anulka Clarke, ICO Acting Director of Regulatory Assurance, said: “In recent times, working life has changed for millions of us in a way few could have predicted. Every industry sector and its workers have been impacted. Both in the public and private sector, and businesses large and small.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are impacting the ways decisions are made about workers; monitoring technologies are more varied and widespread in use; and the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly accelerated the trend for remote working and for obtaining health data.”

Clarke added: “When used in the workplace, these developments and other similar issues can impact on people’s privacy. It’s vital that employers understand how they can operate in the changing environment and build trust with their workers when it comes to protecting their information rights.”

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She insisted that data protection was not a barrier to the use of new technologies to improve and develop employment practices. “Data protection enables innovation to happen responsibly, it builds trust between employers and workers. Innovation itself enables economic growth which is vital as we look towards a post pandemic future.”

Clarke said the ICO wanted to create practical employment guidance where personal data is used, that supports both employers and staff.

“In order for our guidance to be pragmatic, it needs to address key issues, concerns and problems so the final guidance we produce is as practically applicable to real life situations as possible. We can only achieve this if we represent your views and opinions so please send them to us.”

To share your views click on the link to the ICO's survey.

Clarke said the ICO, in replacing its existing Employment code, planned to produce easily accessible online resources, that reflected the way work had changed and were relevant. “The employment practices and data protection guidance will cover topics including recruitment and selection, employment records, monitoring of workers, and information about workers’ health. We intend to add to this evolving resource over time.”

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