Writing an employee privacy notice on a laptop.

A complete guide to Employee Privacy Notices (with examples)

Employee privacy notices are crucial in a world where information is constantly shared, and technology permeates every aspect of our lives. The issue of employee privacy has become a critical consideration for employers. Establishing trust and transparency in the workplace is key to fostering a positive work environment. One effective way to achieve this balance is by implementing an employee privacy notice. 

Written by employment law expert, Dipo Osikoya, this post breaks down the basics of employee privacy policies and explains why they matter. It then offers practical guidance on what to include in your organisation’s documents, with insights from some top-notch examples of employee privacy notices.

If you’re interested in one particular section, use the links below to navigate straight to it:

Ready to talk about your organisation’s employee privacy notice? Contact our team today.

 

What is an employee privacy notice?

Employee privacy notices are foundational documents that meticulously outline how an organisation collects, processes, and safeguards the personal data of its employees. 

These notices serve as critical instruments for compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which establish stringent regulations governing the handling of personal information. A privacy notice is determined by these regulations, providing a structured framework for transparent communication regarding data practices within an organisation. Understanding the privacy policy meaning is key to navigating these regulations effectively.

 

Why do employers need to draft an employee privacy notice?

Under the GDPR, employers must share specific information with their staff, a crucial step in ensuring fair and transparent processing of HR-related data. To meet GDPR requirements, crafting a clear and customised employee privacy notice for employees is key.

While there’s no strict method for sharing this information, we highly recommend using a privacy notice. How you share it with your staff is up to your organisation’s preference.

 

The roles of an employee privacy notice

The employee privacy notice is a vital document in your journey to GDPR compliance. Since organisations handle a considerable amount of personal and special category data, being transparent about data practices is essential under GDPR’s ‘transparency’ principle. 

Alongside other policies, procedures, and training, the employee privacy notice, guided by the GDPR for employees, plays a central role and will likely be closely examined by staff, who now have increased rights under the GDPR. Keeping it straightforward, honest, and detailed ensures compliance and builds trust with your team.

Here, we explore why employers should prioritise the creation and dissemination of clear and comprehensive employee privacy notices. 

Legal compliance and ethical responsibility

Employee privacy notices play a crucial role in ensuring that employers comply with relevant privacy laws and regulations such as the Data Protection Act 2018, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Providing clear information about the collection, use and protection of employee data demonstrates an ethical commitment to respecting individual privacy rights. This helps in minimising legal risks and contributes to building a culture of trust between employers and employees.

Building trust and transparency

Investing time and effort into creating clear and accessible privacy notices is not just a legal obligation; it’s a strategic move towards fostering a culture of trust and respect within the organisation. Transparency is the cornerstone of any healthy employer-employee relationship. Employee privacy notices communicate to employees how their personal information will be handled, stored, and used by the organisation. 

This transparency fosters a sense of trust and reassures employees that their privacy is a priority. When individuals feel confident that their personal information is being handled responsibly, it strengthens the employer-employee bond.

Clarifying data usage

Employee privacy notices serve as a guide for employees on how their data will be utilised by the organisation. This includes information such as the purposes of data processing, the categories of data collected, and any third parties with whom the data may be shared. 

Providing this clarity helps employees make informed decisions about the information they share and allows them to have a better understanding of the implications of data processing. 

Enhancing cybersecurity awareness

Employee privacy notices are not only about the protection of personal information but also play a role in enhancing cybersecurity awareness. By outlining security measures in place to protect employee data, organisations can educate employees about the importance of maintaining secure practices. 

This proactive approach reduces the risk of data breaches and strengthens the overall cybersecurity posture of the organisation. 

Adapting to remote work challenges

With the rise of remote and hybrid work, the need for comprehensive employee privacy notices has become even more pronounced. Remote work often involves the use of personal devices and varied communication channels. 

Clear privacy notices help employees understand how their data is handled in diverse work settings, ensuring that privacy remains a priority regardless of physical location. 

 

Employee privacy notice examples

Whilst most employee privacy notices are internally shared within a company, providing transparency to employees about data handling practices, here are a few examples from public body organisations to offer insights into their specific approaches. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

All employee privacy notices uniformly address essential elements such as data processing and retention periods, often presenting similar content. For instance, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a key figure in data protection, offers the following example:

  • Introduction
  • How do we get your information
  • What personal data we process and why
  • Lawful basis for processing your personal data
  • How long we keep your personal data
  • Data sharing
  • Do we use any data processors
  • Your rights in relation to data processing
  • Transfers of personal data
  • Further information 

The ICO’s employee privacy notice, tailored for its public sector role, stands out in specific aspects. For instance, the ‘further information’ section delves into unique organisational facets such as their car park scheme:

The car park scheme is operated by staff, though the ICO does process some of the personal information of scheme members in order to make deductions from your salary. Our facilities department also hold vehicle licence plate details linked to you. These details are deleted when members leave the scheme.

In addition to the above, the ICO’s employee privacy notice covers a range of other organisational-specific data processing activities, such as security checks, CCTV surveillance, financial monitoring, and equal opportunities monitoring, to name a few. In crafting your employee privacy notice, consider unique organisational facets for a tailored and effective approach. 

ITV

The ITV employee privacy notice, meticulously crafted by its privacy-focused writers, exemplifies a stellar model in data protection and privacy governance. Rooted in unwavering compliance with privacy laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ITV’s approach sets a commendable standard.

Noteworthy for its transparent communication, ITV’s privacy notice elucidates clear data collection methods, purposeful processing of personal information, and a robust framework ensuring the security of employee data. Sections such as ‘Right to be Forgotten,’ ‘Objecting to Processing,’ ‘Restricting Processing,’ and ‘Making a Complaint’ demonstrate ITV’s commitment to empowering employees with comprehensive data rights.

If you’re unsure what to include, our expert solicitors for employers can help ensure compliance and alignment with your organisation’s distinct needs. Speak to our team today.

 

How to write an employee privacy notice

A well-crafted employee privacy notice is crucial for maintaining transparency, building trust, and ensuring legal compliance within an organisation. Implementing a poorly thought-out employee privacy notice can erode the employer-employee bond and result in potentially costly data protection issues arising, so we would always recommend consulting a legal specialist before attempting to write documentation internally. 

This notwithstanding, there are certain aspects that any experienced employee privacy notice writer will look to address as part of a robust privacy policy. 

1. Introduction and purpose

Begin with a concise introduction outlining the purpose of the privacy notice. Clearly state the commitment to transparency and the protection of employee privacy. Here, you can explain who you are too. 

Example: “Welcome to [Company Name]’s Employee Privacy Notice. At [Company Name], we are dedicated to safeguarding your privacy and ensuring transparency in the handling of your personal data. This notice aims to inform you about the types of data we collect, why we collect it, and how we ensure its security.”

2. Data collected and processes

Detail the types of employee data collected and the specific purposes for which each category is processed. This section sets the foundation for transparency and informs employees about the organisation’s data practices.

Example: “We collect personal data such as your name, contact details, and employment history. This information is processed for the purpose of managing human resources processes, providing access to business services, and fulfilling our regulatory obligations as a supervisory authority.”

3. Legal framework and compliance

Acknowledge and adhere to relevant data protection laws and regulations, such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. Communicate the organisation’s commitment to legal compliance, instilling confidence in employees regarding the lawful handling of their data.

Example: “We operate in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. This ensures that your personal data is handled lawfully, fairly, and transparently. Our commitment to compliance is unwavering, and we continuously strive to meet and exceed legal standards.”

4. Data security measures

Provide a comprehensive overview of the security measures in place to protect employee data from unauthorised access or breaches. Detail encryption protocols, access controls, and any other safeguards employed to ensure data confidentiality and integrity.

Example: “Your data security is our priority. We utilise advanced encryption protocols, strict access controls, and regular security audits to protect your information from unauthorised access or breaches, ensuring its confidentiality and integrity.”

5. Employee rights

Explicitly outline the rights employees have regarding their personal data, including the right to access, rectify, and erase information. Clearly explain the process for employees to exercise these rights, fostering a sense of control over their data.

Example: “You have the right to access, rectify, and erase your personal data. To exercise these rights, contact our Data Protection Officer at [DPO email]. We believe in empowering you to have control over your information.”

6. Data sharing and third parties

Communicate if and how employee data is shared with third parties. Clearly state the reasons for such sharing and the security measures in place to protect the data when shared externally.

Example: “In certain circumstances, we may share your data with third parties for legal or business purposes. Rest assured, such sharing is conducted securely, and stringent measures are in place to protect your data during external sharing.”

7. Data retention periods

Specify the duration for which employee data will be retained. Clearly articulate the criteria used to determine retention periods and the process for securely disposing of data when it is no longer needed.

Example: “We retain your data for the duration of your employment and for a specific period afterward. The criteria for retention are outlined in our data retention policy, ensuring that data is securely disposed of when no longer necessary.”

8. Communication channels

Communicate the privacy notice to employees through accessible channels, such as company intranet, email, or employee handbooks. Ensure that employees are aware of where to find the notice and encourage them to seek clarification if needed.

Example: “This privacy notice is available on our company intranet, and a copy has been sent to your email. It’s also included in our employee handbook. If you have any questions or need clarification, please reach out to our HR department.”

9. Review and updates

Commit to regular reviews of the privacy notice to ensure alignment with changes in data protection laws, organisational practices, or technological advancements. Regular updates demonstrate a proactive approach to compliance and employee well-being.

Example: “We are committed to keeping this privacy notice updated. Regular reviews are conducted to align with any changes in data protection laws or our practices. Your privacy matters, and we strive to ensure our policies reflect the latest standards.”

 

How we can help

In conclusion, employee privacy notices are not just a legal requirement but a fundamental component of a responsible and ethical workplace. By prioritising transparency, employers can build trust, empower employees, and navigate the complexities of data privacy in the digital age. 

At Richard Nelson LLP, we specialise in crafting tailored employee privacy notices that reflect your commitment to transparency and legal compliance. By leveraging our expertise, you can instil confidence in your workforce, meet legal requirements, and create a workplace environment where privacy is valued. Contact us today to embark on a journey towards comprehensive and effective employee privacy management.

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