· Tricia Tan  · 5 min read

Data Privacy & Everything in Between: An HR’s Guide

Throughout the employee life cycle, including hiring, dismissal, disciplinary or grievance procedures, payroll, and similar activities, the HR department manages a significant amount of personal data.

In addition to their existing employees, HR also gathers and handles personal data from prospects, consultants, contractors, and former employees.

With the abundance of information HR handles, one can’t help but wonder, are data privacy policies in place?

Is HR knowledgeable and adept in securing and properly disposing of this private information?

What is data privacy?

The rules, methods, technologies, and laws that control how one’s data is used throughout the data lifecycle are referred to as data privacy. This covers the methods used for gathering, using, storing, maintaining, and discarding the data.

From an HR standpoint, data privacy is essential. Organizations are responsible for keeping employees’ personal information secret because it is amassed in large amounts. HR should collaborate with IT, compliance, and legal counsel to build a comprehensive policy.

All of the aforementioned “hows” should be detailed in the policy. It should also make clear how information is shared, whether system activity is monitored, and how login credentials are protected.

The policy should also outline the duration of data retention, employees’ privacy rights, and any stakeholders’ commitments.

What you need to know about data privacy laws

A maze of laws and rules controls the handling of personal employee data. A business must be aware of its responsibilities in each state and nation where it conducts business and put in place the necessary privacy and security safeguards to prevent legal “explosions.”

Privacy rules often apply to data that may be used to identify a specific individual, such as name, address, phone number, birth date, Social Security number, and so forth.

Several federal laws in the US safeguard particular categories of personal data.

These laws include the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

Sensitive information such as race, ethnicity, national origin, political beliefs or affiliations, union membership, sexual orientation, marital status, health-related details, and criminal background are all protected under the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

Some US states have passed tighter, more thorough privacy legislation, most notably California.

What happens when there’s a data breach?

Unauthorized access to, loss, transfer, or destruction of personal data as a result of a security breach are all considered data breaches.

However, finding a data breach can have different consequences depending on where you are.

Consequences may include:

  • The Data Protection Act of 2018 has provisions that make certain disclosures of personal data illegal. Warnings, reprimands, and fines are all types of penalties.
  • It is possible to impose a temporary or long-term ban on data processing.
  • Companies may also experience significant revenue loss. Companies with a data breach frequently experience short- and long-term revenue losses.
  • A data breach can harm a company’s brand and reputation, which often has an effect on the bottom line.

What HR can do

The following are the key responsibilities that each organization’s internal data privacy programs should include.

1. Understand relevant employee privacy regulations

The most fundamental duties of any corporation are to identify the laws and understand what employee rights they safeguard. This responsibility becomes an enormous undertaking for businesses with international operations.

Enterprises must have security procedures and privacy policies that guarantee they are abiding by local legal requirements in order to be compliant with international legislation.

2. Justify the gathering and use of personal information

Companies are often only permitted to gather and use employees’ personal information that is required for and pertinent to their work.

Resumes, references, pay stubs, medical records, employment contracts, compensation and benefits, and performance evaluations are examples of common employee data.

3. Put formal policies and procedures in place for consent

Employers must inform staff members of the methods used to collect, use, and distribute their personal data.

The most effective approach to accomplish this is through written consent rules that are open and transparent, simple to access and comprehend, and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Regular reviews and updates of these policies are required. In addition, employers must conduct extensive and ongoing training to ensure that employees know their data privacy rights.

4. Verify all personal data processing

Find the employee data stored in your HR system and keep a record of all processes that handle employee data, such as hiring, onboarding, and benefits administration.

5. Protect employee data and promptly alert them to a data breach

To protect their employees’ data, businesses must ensure they have the necessary security measures in place.

A corporation must promptly notify affected employees and regulatory authorities if employee data is accessed, obtained, or compromised in a security breach.

6. Limit who has access to personal data

Ensure that nobody else in your company besides authorized personnel has access to employee data.

Although breaches of client data privacy frequently make the news, employee data privacy is a growing source of potential risk and liability for businesses.

How to store sensitive personal data

Storage is a crucial aspect of data safety that is frequently disregarded. The GDPR mandates that personal data be retained for the smallest amount of time.

The length of time should be determined by the demands of your firm or organization in processing the data. In addition, any statutory requirement is that the data be retained for a specific time.

Data must be kept on a secure server, and while encryption is not required, it is strongly advised. You can manage your company and employee papers easily, safely, and with the help of a document management system that successfully protects your data.

Data is easily accessible and auditable, which aids the business in achieving its overall compliance aim.

What Hezum can do

Are you seeking a secure database that your business may utilize to keep confidential HR records? Looking to disseminate your data privacy policy to the entire team?

Or are you seeking solutions that will allow your HR team to devote more time to enhancing your privacy policies?

Hezum, a complete HR solution, can assist you in any situation. Visit our website now to learn more about our solutions.

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