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HR and Data Protection: Everything You Need to Know

By | Alice Porter | Freelance Writer

The term GDPR has received a lot of publicity over the previous 6 months and a globalization of data protection has changed the way our personal information will be processed forever.

So, you may have heard the term GDPR, but what does it actually mean? GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, which shall be enforced in the UK and across the EU this year. Some of the most significant changes that are going to take place during this time will affect employers and HR representatives, more specifically, the way that they are allowed to store data.

We are living in the digital age, where so much information is available to us at the click of a button, and it only takes a few moments to realize how much information HR professionals and businesses store on their employees. Protecting your employees data is becoming one of the biggest priorities and failing to do so can have really serious complications. Here are some of the most important things that you need to know about data protection to prepare yourself…  

What does GDPR mean for HR?

Most HR professionals will at least have a basic understanding of data protection and how serious it can be, for example, it’s important to have a strict control over sensitive data such as salaries, home addresses and medical data.  

Any breach of this data could be harmful to an employee and can lead to legal ramifications if the data is not retrieved and maintained effectively. During any employment process, whether it’s during the recruitment stages, or handling sensitive information, there needs to be a level of security, whether that’s CCTV or password protected filing, in order to protect the business and to protect the employee. 

Across the globe, failure to comply with these regulations have led to information getting into the wrong hands, for example, salaries of high-level employees have been revealed, which has caused unrest within a business, medical information and home addresses have been breached and personal data has been sold. These mistakes and breaches of confidential information can lead to fines, huge lawsuits and in some cases, can cause businesses to collapse in on themselves. 

It’s important to remember, that as a HR representative for a business, it’s your responsibility to protect the information of the employees in your company, and failure to do so can lead to you losing your job or in a worst case scenario, the downfall of the business.

Sensitive data:

GDPR is being issued later this year, so it’s important for HR professionals and employers to be prepared for when this happens. During the recruitment process, it’s now required that a document is issued, which will outline what information is stored and what their rights are in relation to the information. Clarity in this subject matter can prevent confusion later on down the line.

The idea is that employees are given full transparency when it comes to their personal data. This will prevent everything from employees data being sold off to call centers, where they will receive unnecessary and unwanted phone calls, to their personal data being stored unnecessarily or passed around the office. This will help to better protect each individual and to make sure that nothing bad or unwanted can happen to them.

Lawful processing of data for employers:

The main priority for the GDPR movement is to make sure that employers and HR representatives begin to take precautions and to change their processes in order to meet the new regulations.

In some cases, despite how careful a business can be, unfortunate events such as data breaches can happen. As regulations are being changed and the penalties are becoming stricter, it’s important for a business to seek protection, in the case that something bad will happen. Taking out professional indemnity insurance, for example, can save a business from financial ruin if a client or an employee decides to sue, or if a court case is initiated. 

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Ramesh Ranjan

A Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Visiting Professor, Content Manager & Editor. Ex IIM NASSCOM LRC, ex VP NHRD Bangalore Chapter, ex VP-HR@Schneider Electric, Head HR@ APC, Caltex,Co Systems, Natural Remedies. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rameshranjan/

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