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Access Information Your Employer Holds About You

By: Matthew Strawbridge - Updated: 15 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Data Information Employer Business

Companies like information. Knowledge, they say, is power. So a business with a large pool of facts at its disposal must surely be a powerful one! This logic has some merit when applied to the business’s market, its competitors and its own products. However, when it comes to living people, there are laws governing how facts about them can be collected, stored and processed. This article looks at how you can defend your privacy by accessing the details held about you at work.

What Information Does Your Employer Hold?

There are three possible sources for the data your employer holds about you: yourself, your job and external sources.

The first of these is yourself. Any data that you have been asked to supply will be held in your file. If there is anything that you do not wish to be recorded, or consider to be unnecessary, you should consider withholding it.

The second data source is your job. In the course of your career, various facts relating to you will emerge. You will have appraisals. You may have extended periods of sick leave. You may be promoted, moved between departments, demoted, fired, rehired or disciplined. All these things are likely to flow into your personnel file, which will keep expanding until you leave the company to get another job or you retire.

Finally, facts about you may come from external sources. If your referees were contacted as part of the hiring process, any written references they supplied about you may have been kept. If colleagues or customers have made official complaints about you, these could also be on file.

The good news is that you don’t have to guess what data is held about you: under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to find out exactly what details your employer holds about you.

Accessing Your Details

The simplest way to get access to your records is to ask for them. If you have a personnel manager in your organisation then they are probably the right person to contact in the first instance. If you don’t know who to contact, ask your line manager to find out for you.

If the human resources department in your company does not receive many requests from employees for their records then they may try to dissuade you from accessing them or say they cannot provide them. Don’t let this put you off. There is no grey area here – you have a legal right to access your information, regardless of how difficult it may be for a disorganised business to pull your records together for you. All they can do is charge a minimal fee for access; they cannot deny it to you.

Changing Your Data

Having accessed your data, you also have the right to correct it if it is inaccurate. Your employer must act on these changes, amending its files so that they are correct. You may also have the right to ask for data about you to be deleted if you have reason to believe that it is not being used for the purpose for which it was originally collected, or if the business does not require this personal information in order to maintain its relationship with you.

Don’t be afraid to ask to see your employee records and other data held about you at work. After all, it is your data, and you have the legal right to see and correct it. If more workers did this regularly, privacy in the workplace would be less of a concern.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Cathy - Your Question:
I would like to know if I can read my personal file with the company I work forAS on my interview I explained the reason why I couldn't work weekends, and was agreed, lately they have been putting me to work weekends and if I want to stop weekends I have to change my availability I want to know if the information will show this information

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here and here which should help answer your question.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 18-Sep-17 @ 11:08 AM
I would like to know if I can read my personal file with the company I work for AS on my interview I explained the reason why I couldn't work weekends, and was agreed, lately they have been putting me to work weekends and if I want to stop weekends I have to change my availability I want to know if the information will show this information
Cathy - 15-Sep-17 @ 2:06 PM
Hi I work for compass group as a supervisor and pretty much have worked at the venue itself for 6+ years , having worked briefly in the HR department and also the sales department frequently, a job came up within sales where the HOD recommended me to the GM ! I had my first interview with her and a note take (HR Manager ) who has a doesn't really like me ! Was told my interview when amazingly my show around was the strongest I knew the most about the company couldn't praise me enough etc! Second interview went well with GM but when I spoke to the other candidate I was told he mostly asked her about another venue in which she had previously worked at as a waitress ! And he didn't ask her the vital question that he asked me which was "sell this" which I feel was highly unfair! Needless to say I did not get the job My issue is that I saw my interview notes they were in my personal file ? The filing cabinet was left unlocked and I want to know if I had the right to view my files as the HR manager told my line manager she thinks anyone can look at their own personal file . I saw things which contradicted what was said most of these being by the note take (HR manager) I feel unfairly treated as a long term deadicated employee and wondered if anyone had advice ?
Vellie - 9-Aug-17 @ 7:09 PM
Hello, For the last few years I have worked through a agency and recently have applied for a permanent post. One of the requirement is that I provide my recent appraisal that I had done with a hospital that I worked at for over a year. I got in touch with the agency asking for a copy of my appraisal and was told they cannot give me that information. After looking at this site and the information, I forwarded them what my rights are. Can they still refuse and how can I push for my own information. Thank you
Maz - 10-May-17 @ 8:53 PM
My oldmanager retired left my personal file in a drawer that wasn't lock that included my social security number on numerous of papers.Along with my driver license copy and manypersonal information on my medical history and my daughter medical information when I was out when my daughter was ill. What should I do ?
Be - 25-Feb-17 @ 6:32 AM
Hi l have worked for a company for 15 years since 2003 in 2016 l went off sick had stomach operation seen the occupational health doctor went back to work praise back to work then l had my knee operation which made me have long time off to recover and for this reason l lost my job they dismiss me from my job l then turned to my union which l put a apeal in first time didnt go to well because my union asked my company for some information my employers didnt provide and lyed they didnt get any leters regarding the information at that time there was a tape recordinglm trying to get that information but they wont give it or give me a second apeal they also been unresponsive to my unionsthe secratary sayswhat can l do .please advise me thanks
Sarb - 29-Jan-17 @ 6:43 PM
To everyone asking g questions on here the best way to move forward is to raise a subject access request to your employer (Google it) and if they don't supply you with the correct information contact and report them to the information commissioner's office (ICO). The ICO can investigate your employer
Kkkkrazzzy - 21-Jan-17 @ 10:48 AM
I am trying to get a copy of my personnel file from my company, they have said I can view it in an enclosed space with a manager watching, but not allowed to take copies. Can I demand a copy? The specific piece I want a copy of an email from one manager to another saying that I am crazy and a liar, which I believe has prevented my career moving forwards within the company.
Kuma - 16-Nov-16 @ 12:10 PM
My partner recently asked our employer for a copy of all of his certificates etc..(16 years worth) only to be told by HR that there was nothing in his file. Not even a health and safety certificate or banksman certificate never mind training certificates for the machinery he uses daily!! Surely this cannot be right? They cant have employed him for 16years without even so much as a manual handling certificate. Is there anything he can do as hes done all that overghose years to be told he has literally nothing?
Taz16590 - 9-Sep-16 @ 8:34 AM
Si - Your Question:
I worked for ICI for 3 years between 1978 and 1981 ans was incessantly bullied and discriminated against because I was different and had differeng attitudes beliefs and values to my colleagues. I had a nervous breakdown because of all the mental cruelty and mockery and negative appraisals to which I was subjected. This caused me to leave because their treatment of me following an operation, and loss of my Grandma was so unbearable that I just couldnt hold on to my position anymore. I recently discovered in March 2016 that I have had Aspergers Syndrome and an array of complex Traumas ptsds from losing my Father at age 5, from being bullied throughout my life for being different and from social, career rejections and traumatic mistreatments by them. I have really had my human rights contavened in a major way and this has left me with scarring and life long anger because of the unjust way in which these people have behaved.I really do believe that these bosses at ICI were completely instrumental in giving me bad references that were written by them. This resulted in me experiencing multiple career failures for many many years. This on top of me having an undiagnosed autism disorder and complex ptsds made me feel crudhed in heart, spirit and mind. It was so horrible that I could not explain to any living soul just how bad this made me feel. I am too ill to work these days, however, Can I get to find out what they have said about me in the past, how can I get justice for what has been done to me and I get any compensation from them for the abuse that I have suffered as a result of being mistreated by them and of the scarring and anger a revulsion which I still feel to this day as a result of the contraeention of my human rights and of ghem discriminating against my disabilities? Regards Simon

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear you have had a difficult time through your life due to undiagnosed autism. However, you cannot claim for disability discrimination if your autism was not diagnosed and the company was not aware of your disability at the time. However, getting a diagnosis of autism (including Asperger syndrome) can be a really positive step in helping you to understand why issues have been difficult in the past and how to move on and towards a brighter future, please see the National Autistic Society link here. I hope this helps.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 1-Aug-16 @ 10:55 AM
I worked for ICI for 3 years between 1978 and 1981 ans was incessantly bullied and discriminated against because I was different and had differeng attitudes beliefs and values to my colleagues. I had a nervous breakdown because of all the mental cruelty and mockery and negative appraisals to which I was subjected. This caused me to leave because their treatment of me following an operation, and loss of my Grandma was so unbearable that I just couldnt hold on to my position anymore. I recently discovered in March 2016 that I have had Aspergers Syndrome and an array of complex Traumas ptsds from losing my Father at age 5, from being bullied throughout my life for being different and from social, career rejections and traumatic mistreatments by them. I have really had my human rights contavened in a major way and this has left me with scarring and life long anger because of the unjust way in which these people have behaved.I really do believe that these bosses at ICI were completely instrumental in giving me bad references that were written by them. This resulted in me experiencing multiple career failures for many many years. This on top of me having an undiagnosed autism disorder and complex ptsds made me feel crudhed in heart, spirit and mind. It was so horrible that I could not explain to any living soul just how bad this made me feel. I am too ill to work these days, however,Can I get to find out what they have said about me in the past, how can I get justice for what has been done to me and I get any compensation from them for the abuse that I have suffered as a result of being mistreated by them and of the scarring and anger a revulsion which I still feel to this day as a result of the contraeention of my human rights and of ghem discriminating against my disabilities? Regards Simon
Si - 31-Jul-16 @ 10:57 AM
nhsslave - Your Question:
I've worked with the nhs since 1988. I was a trainee scientist until Jan 1990, when I became fully qualified and been there ever since. I found out that they have me as an nhs employee fro 1988 until Jan 1991 - outwith the science department.This is incorrect as I've never worked in any other department.I've been trying to get them to correct this but I'm getting nowhere. I want to apply for other jobs (not science related) as my kids are now grown but if my CV doesn't match my employment record, it might cause an issue.What can I do?

Our Response:
I can only suggest you contact the NHS HR and ask for it's complaints policy and procedure. If you have not obtained a resolution from the NHS HR department directly, then you will need to take this further.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 8-Jun-16 @ 2:45 PM
I've worked with the nhs since 1988. I was a trainee scientist until Jan 1990, when I became fully qualified and been there ever since.I found out that they have me as an nhs employee fro 1988 until Jan 1991 - outwith the science department. This is incorrect as I've never worked in any other department. I've been trying to get them to correct this but I'm getting nowhere. I want to apply for other jobs (not science related) as my kids are now grown but if my CV doesn't match my employment record, it might cause an issue. What can I do?
nhsslave - 7-Jun-16 @ 8:26 PM
I have recently requested a copy of all my appraisals since joking the company. The HR team tell me they can only find the last two. What rights do I have to demand they find them.
Itsnofun - 16-May-16 @ 5:01 PM
I've not long been in a new role at a software company and only recently I have become aware that (quite possibly from day one) my boss and other members of my department have been consistently going through my personal data from home, this includes browsing data, personal emails and potentially anything else linked to my google account.I became aware that through google chrome all my personal data was being synced, I had a program that was supposed to wipe any such data but this appears to have not been working.I started to become aware of this after I noticed I was receiving strange comments and attitudes from colleagues and members of staff and this culminated in one evening when I made some searches online regarding this.The following day I over heard comments saying he knows now.This whole thing has really terrified me and has left me feeling violated in a way I have never experienced before.At no point had they stated this was going on nor given any valid reason for doing so.Clearly such private information I do not wish to share with work colleagues and at no point was I using the work computers for anything other than what I was supposed to be doing.I think also details about my private life have been spread around the business and I don't know how to proceed from here.The whole thing has really stressed me out and I have recently had to take time off sick due to it.I want to ensure any such data they hold is deleted and this voyeuristic game (this is how it seems) of theirs to come to an end.Please advise, many thanks.
ConcernedEmployee - 14-May-16 @ 6:46 PM
Hi I am the HR Manager of a small company and as such have access to all personnel files including my own and have done for some 11 years. I recently made a copy of the electronic file containing my contract, P60s, P11Ds and salary reviews. I made my manager aware that I had copied my personal informaiton and he is kicking off asking when I made a formal access request (we don't have a policy for this in our company) My reply is that I didn't formally request access because I already have access to this information and have done for 11 years and I have simply made a copy of my own data. Have I done anything wrong here?
Sam - 19-Apr-16 @ 10:12 AM
I asked my past employer for a confirmation of past employment with only factual information (dates of employment, position and that I resigned on my own accord) but they declined my request referring to their policy only to confirm past employment within the last seven years. I worked for them eight years ago but the program I am applying for requires me to confirm ten years of employment. Is my past employer within their rights to decline to confirm that I worked for them? Can I request whatever information they may still hold on me under the Data Protection Act?
Jberg - 14-Apr-16 @ 10:06 PM
Good morning I was doing some research and came across this site and the thread below.Some of the experiences that are being described here ought possibly to result in a tribunal claim. This is not meant to be legal advice; but from what I've read, in particular for example; Be Creative & Grievance, they ought to be assessed against legal advice to see if you have the basis of a claim.
Employment Law Consu - 18-Mar-16 @ 11:29 AM
Bobby - Your Question:
A previous employer has carried out credit checks and a director sanction search on me months after I resigned. During my time there I was never disciplined but we are going to tribunal over unpaid wages. I was not employed as a manager or director and the company they used is a know your candidate which suggest pre employment checking system. In my contract there was a clause that said they may need to do checks however I have never been told about specific checks, when they will happen or how the info will be used. I think they are using this info to try and discredit me at tribunal. Is this a misuse of my information?

Our Response:
Employers can do credit checks on employers (if advised in their contracts) to see whether they have ahistory of financial mismanagement (especially if the role involves the handling of money, accounts or sensitive data) and only while your contract is valid. I suggest seeking legal advice to see whether your employer is acting within its boundaries, I suspect not if you have left the company and where the investigation is not relevant to the tribunal.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 22-Feb-16 @ 11:22 AM
A previous employer has carried out credit checks and a director sanction search on me months after I resigned. During my time there I was never disciplined but we are going to tribunal over unpaid wages. I was not employed as a manager or director and the company they used is a know your candidate which suggest pre employment checking system. In my contract there was a clause that said they may need to do checks however I have never been told about specific checks, when they will happen or how the info will be used. I think they are using this info to try and discredit me at tribunal. Is this a misuse of my information?
Bobby - 21-Feb-16 @ 11:07 AM
I was being bullied at work two members of my department. After complaining to my line manager the bullying got worse to the point of being physically assaulted. As usual itwas made out that I was at fault and HR got involved. I stupidly though that HR were their to resolve issues in the work place. But the HR staff who interviewed me about being assaulted, asked me why this person attacked me, and then gave me the analogy of 'the old woman on the bus'. I was gob smacked she was their to justify this persons violent actions, and stated "well you should have moved when he told you too". I was later dismissed from my job. The HR department were also taping the interviews and changing the verbatim in the minutes and make out that I was admitting to something I had not done. This all happened six months ago. I could not until recently think about it as it was very difficult and very distressing. I went to a job interview, got offered the job, and then the job offer was retracted from the company, and they told me verbally it was because of my previous job and to maybe look into it further. Am I able to get a copy of my personal file six months after leaving the company?.
Be Creative - 9-Feb-16 @ 1:10 PM
I've been made redundant recently and have asked for my personal file but my employer isn't replying to me or other employees. Can she legally keep these or does she have to give them to us?
SammieB - 7-Feb-16 @ 4:49 PM
Grievance - Your Question:
I contacted ACAS and I was advised to contact the Information Commissioner's Office to register a concern (go to ico.org.uk). I've done this and I'll let you know how effective it is.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your comments, we will be interested to hear your feedback.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 3-Feb-16 @ 3:09 PM
I contacted ACAS and I was advised to contact the Information Commissioner's Office to register a concern (go to ico.org.uk). I've done this and I'll let you know how effective it is.
Grievance - 3-Feb-16 @ 10:44 AM
I have asked my employer for emails under the subject access request. The ones it forwarded where either edited or were irrelevant. I know for a fact that there are 3 or 4 emails regarding my health/well-being and my employer claims that they are not about me, so I don't a right to see them! The edited email hasn't been edited in order to protect other people - it has simply been chopped and re-typed! I have made 2 further requests to see the 'unedited' email, without success, and I have asked two times to see the other 4 emails - again, no success. Surely there must be an independent person who is able to go these companies and demand to see the original emails. otherwise, what on earth is the point? Companies can simply say it's not about me, or edited the original e-mails!
Grievance - 1-Feb-16 @ 5:53 PM
Grievance - Your Question:
My employer is refusing to release emails to me under a subject access request that I'm reliably informed would confirm that my employer was aware that I was under intolerable stress prior to my long term absence from work. What can I do?

Our Response:
I think in this case I would give ACAS a call to talk to someone directly and to see what your options are.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 1-Feb-16 @ 11:54 AM
My employer is refusing to release emails to me under a subject access request that I'm reliably informed would confirm that my employer was aware that I was under intolerable stress prior to my long term absence from work. What can I do?
Grievance - 31-Jan-16 @ 2:34 PM
I am interested to know if access to personal records under the Data Protection Act applies to military personnel. I know the MOD has to comply with the act in terms of storing information but do they also have to comply with regards to access to it ? Thanks in advance
Jeff - 13-Jan-16 @ 9:42 AM
Jolantru - Your Question:
I have twice asked my employer for copies of all documents they hold about me, up to 8 files, but they have said they are company property and I am not allowed them. Are they right? Or do they not want me to have them due to the poor way they treated me whilst I was depressed.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to find out exactly what details your employer holds about you. If you have tried solving a problem by talking to your manager and/or HR and you’re not satisfied with the outcome, one option you could take is to make a formal grievance complaint, see link here. You may also wish to pose this question to ACAS and see what it advises is the best way forward. You can call directly, or chat online via the link here. I hope this helps.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 5-Jan-16 @ 9:46 AM
I have twice asked my employer for copies of all documents they hold about me, up to 8 files, but they have said they are company property and I am not allowed them. Are they right? Or do they not want me to have them due to the poor way they treated me whilst I was depressed.
Jolantru - 4-Jan-16 @ 2:59 PM
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