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Access Information Your Employer Holds About You

By: Matthew Strawbridge - Updated: 2 Jun 2018 | 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.

EU General Data Protection Regulation

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) superseded the UK Data Protection Act 1998 on May 25, 2018. The new policy expands the rights of individuals to control how their personal data is collected and processed. It places a range of new obligations on organisations to be more accountable for data protection.

Organisations are obliged to have technical and procedural measures in place to safeguard the personal information they hold. You can contact the ICO if you think you have cause to complain .

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I had a back problem at work 2 years ago, where I was seen by specialists, physiotherapists, occupational health. Was also given a drs note to say find me alternative work to what I was doing. My new supervisor has now moved me to another job and was not aware of my problems. When I asked about my paperwork etc.. Was told there is no paperwork for me having back problems. I've sent him a copy of the occupational health file I had kept but have nothing else. Can my multi million pound company just lose all the paperwork I have had?? If so who can be held accountable because it looks like I have to go through the whole process again of being made to feel like I'm lieing and being told I will be sacked on medical grounds even though I've had no time of or any other problems with my back for over 2 years by being in the job I was moved from. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you
Jaime - 2-Jun-18 @ 8:02 AM
Hi My daughter is taking her ex employer to a tribunal. Can she get the files they have about her before the tribunal
Hel - 22-May-18 @ 12:17 AM
@tom - Additional information also will have to be disclosed by organisations alongside the personal data they provide in response to SARs (subject access requests). The ICO site has a 'Find out how to request your personal information' page which tells you how to request the specifics.
Jude - 24-Apr-18 @ 9:39 AM
hello. I want to understand if under the new regulation (or even now) I can access to all the file (including minutes, comments, anything filed basically) regarding my job in a company I left in May 2014. Reason I am asking is that I was in the middle of a greviance that I raised as I felt I was being mobbed by my manager (including HR manager) and my colleagues. I was lucky enough to find another job whilst in the middle of this nightmare and so I left all drop. However, I wonder what were the comments on me that came out during the various meetings and to see if there is a way I can still sue them, given I have witnesses. Can you please confirm that they cannot deny access to me to anything they filed regarding me?
tom - 23-Apr-18 @ 4:09 PM
On Friday after I had already received mail a letter which had clearly been opened appeared through my letter box. The letter had my name on the envelope but had been incorrectly addressed with my next door neighbors house number on it. The letter contained a written warning from my employer with a transcript detailing my fairly embarrassing major mistake I had been disciplined for together with a fairly detailed transcript of a number of medical and mental health problems I had given as possible reasons for my lapse in concentration. I am absolutely furious that my employer has made this disgusting irreconcilable mistake to the extent that I not only feel they should retract the written warning and erase it from their records but also financially compensate me. I rang the HR dept immediately I realised what had happened-16.32 on a Friday they had gone home. It’s probably just as well they had for both our sakes. And II am equally disgusted that my neighbour who I don’t get on with has possibly accessed this information but I am not sure what to do - confront her or get my company to write to hear asking her to contact them and state whether or not she read this letter. And get my company to warn her of the consequences of tampering with mail. I feel unreasonably wronged. How do you suggest I approach this?
Enraged - 23-Apr-18 @ 12:45 AM
I'm in the UK, I had to call my HR department and the women I spoke to suddenly put me on speakerphone during the call without informing me or asking my permission to do so. She then went on to try and draw me into a conversation about a personal injury claim I have made against the company. She was trying to put words into my mouth. Can someone please say if she has breached any Acts for putting me on speakerphone during a private conversation, Data Protection Act 1998, Human Rights Act etc... Many Thanks
thearrows - 19-Apr-18 @ 10:07 PM
CraigF82 - Your Question:
I am in the middle of an appeal process from my soon to be ex employer and I am curious to see all the information that has been said about me, is it possible to have all access from any communication example emails between managers etc? I believe the reasons are very much personal and I have evidence that the business reasons are not the dismissal

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which will give you more information in addition to the information outlined in the article.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 17-Apr-18 @ 10:32 AM
I am in the middle of an appeal process from my soon to be ex employer and I am curious to see all the information that has been said about me, is it possible to have all access from any communication example emails between managers etc? I believe the reasons are very much personal and I have evidence that the business reasons are not the dismissal
CraigF82 - 16-Apr-18 @ 12:16 PM
Rusty - Your Question:
I have been accused of puttinng a complaint in against somone and it as resulted in this person having a mark on there file.this is of cause very untrue.how can I proove I have not done this.should my name be documented if I had done this.

Our Response:
It is very difficult to comment on your question, as much depends why this accusation has surfaced and how. You would have to speak to your HR or line manager directly regarding this matter as it obviously has put you in a difficult position within your place of work.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 5-Apr-18 @ 9:23 AM
I have been accused of puttinng a complaint in against somone and it as resulted in this person having a mark on there file..this is of cause very untrue..how can i proove i have not done this..should my name be documented if i had done this.
Rusty - 4-Apr-18 @ 11:30 AM
Kazzmac - Your Question:
Hello, my firm have recently changed their personnel person. The lady they have hired is the worst gossip in the office & is always divulging private information. Can I request she not have access to my file? Many thanks

Our Response:
In the first instance, if you are unhappy with this colleague's actions you would have to mention this to your line manager to see if the matter can be resolved informally. If you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing - please see link here.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 23-Mar-18 @ 10:49 AM
Hello, my firm have recently changed their personnel person. The lady they have hired is the worst gossip in the office & is always divulging private information. Can I request she not have access to my file? Many thanks
Kazzmac - 22-Mar-18 @ 1:22 AM
@none If the terms and conditions of your job have changed as a result then yes.
NJohjn - 5-Mar-18 @ 12:56 PM
My job title was changed and I didn't know about it, have my employer got to notify me
None - 2-Mar-18 @ 4:21 PM
As an employee, are you suppose to be notified if your job title gets changed & can I have a copy of the file
None - 2-Mar-18 @ 4:17 PM
I recently had to end my employment at a school due to ill health and would like to have my personal file, am I entitled to have it or can the school refuse to give it to me? Do I have to give them a reason as to why I require it? Many thanks.
Irish7 - 23-Feb-18 @ 12:34 AM
Am I entitled to get a copy of my personal file and discipline record from a previous employer? What do I do if I find records have been erased or hidden to protect the company?
Vonny - 11-Dec-17 @ 6:34 PM
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
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