In this weeks question of the week, Alistair answers “Can Employees see Their HR File?”
An employee has asked to see their personnel file, am I obliged to do show them all information?
Under UK GDPR rules (General Data Protection Regulation) that became law in 2016, an employee is entitled to submit a request for access to any personal data about them. GDPR sets clear guidelines on the protection of personal data held on a filing system as well as data collected online. As an employer, you must comply if anyone requests a copy of the personal data you have.
There are some exceptions to an employee’s right of access to their personal data. One exception to the employer’s duty to disclose personal data is where the information requested is for the purpose of management forecasting or management planning, and where disclosure could prejudice the employer’s interests.
Another main exception is where disclosure of the information would reveal personal information about a third party who can be identified from the information. In this case, the employer may not automatically refuse to disclose the information.
This could include a reference from a previous employer. Instead, the employer should seek either to edit the relevant documents in order to conceal the identity of the third party or, if this is not possible, to seek his or her consent to the disclosure of the information. The employer should also disclose the data if it would be reasonable in all the circumstances to do so without the consent of the third party. What is reasonable will depend on the duty of confidentiality owed to the third party, any steps that the employer has taken to seek his or her consent and whether the third party is capable of giving consent or has expressly refused consent.
Responding to personnel file requests
Under GDPR rules, you must respond to any requests for a personnel file promptly and within one month. However, if the request has complications such as third parties, you can extent the response time to three months.
If you have any further questions or are still asking can employees see their HR file?, please get in touch.