The Collection, Storage and Use of Personal Information by Employers
The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) apply to the collection, storage and use of both personal and sensitive information held by organisations. There is an exemption called the employee record’s exemption found in s.7B(3) of the Privacy Act. A private sector employer does not need to comply with the APPs with regards to how they handle employee’s personal information.
It is important to note though, that despite this exemption employer’s still need to be careful with dealing employee records. For example, the reporting an OHS incident requires employer organisations to provide a range of OHS reports which contain personal information about workers to regulators, contractors, lawyers and board members of the organisation. It is reasonable to assume that this type of reporting of this type of personal information falls easily within the exemption. However; indiscriminately reporting details of an injury or incident to a board of directors or the OHS regulator may not be appropriate. This is because providing personal details about an employee that includes irrelevant information such as bank details; genetic or mental health records may be in some cases constitute a breach.
It is the view of MJT Law that it is important to exercise caution when disclosing employee’s personal information. It is important to have your HR team review your compliance with the Privacy Act particularly in the area of OHS reporting and employee records.
We suggest that implementing practical measures in order to manage your employee’s privacy like de-identification of individual’s in any regular safety reporting ensuring that if you are keeping drivers licences they are kept in compliance to the privacy principals and undertake a thorough review of how you keep employee’s data.
The information in this document, broadcast or communication is provided for general guidance only. It is not legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other advisors. No warranty is given to the correctness of the information contained in this document, broadcast or communication or its suitability for use by you. To the fullest extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted by the publisher for any statement or opinion, or for an error or omission or for any loss or damage suffered as a result of reliance on or use by any person of any material in the document, broadcast or communication.
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