Q: The application form I completed for the job I have just been offered requested what I consider to be sensitive information that my employer will undoubtedly keep on file. Am I entitled to check that the information is being held accurately, and is my employer legally entitled to pass that information on to anyone else?
A: Under the Data Protection Act 1998 an employee has a right to be told whether data is being held or processed by their employer. They also have a right to request a description of the data, the purpose for which it is being held and details of other persons or organisations to whom their employer may disclose such information.
You can write to your employer requesting access to your personal data. Your employer must then either give you or allow you to inspect the information within 40 days of your request. If the information is supplied you may be asked to pay a fee.
If your personal data is factually inaccurate, you should write to your employer detailing the inaccuracies. Explain that information needs to be accurate under the Data Protection Act. If your data still remains factually inaccurate, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Your employer must not disclose your personal data to a third party, unless you have been informed of this and given your consent. There are however some exceptions. For example your employer is legally obliged to disclose information to the Inland Revenue, the Police, Child Support Agency, Benefits Agency or Department of Work and Pensions, but you must still be told what information is being disclosed, to whom and why. If you think your employer has breached the Data Protection Act, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.