The Data Protection Act 1998

This page provides an introduction to the Data Protection Act and how it affects interim managers and the users of interim services.

The Data Protection Act came into force in the UK on 1st March 2000, following an EU directive designed to protect the privacy of individuals. Wide obligations have been placed on anyone who collects ‘personal data’, and wide protection is given to individuals on whom the data is collected.

The Act applies to the ‘processing’ of ‘personal data’, and both of these terms have been given extremely broad definitions so as to maximise the protection of the individual. This also means that almost any business in the UK holding information on its employees or clients, for example, will need to comply with the Act which is complex and imposes many obligations on processors of personal data.

There are both criminal and civil sanctions for breach of the legislation, so businesses must be careful to ensure compliance.

Essentially, the Data Protection Act means that interim managers can request to see any personal information that an organisation (eg an interim management provider or an organisation they have conducted an assignment for) holds about them, and that those holding that data must follow certain rules in the way they store and use it.

Most organisations are already aware of the Data Protection Act and their obligations around the storage and use of personal data. When it comes to working with interims, there may be particular issues around the use and sharing of employment references, access to data when an interim is working within the organisation and what information they continue to hold after the interim manager has completed the assignment.

The Information Commissioner’s Office website offers guidance on the implications of the Act and any changes necessary to ensure compliance.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice. The summaries represent our understanding of the law as at November 14th 2007 and it is subject to change at any time. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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