What Does GDPR Really Mean For HR Teams?

One of the main challenges of HR data is the thorny issue of data privacy. With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in May 2018, this issue is set to become even more critical for HR teams. But what is GDPR and how might it impact the work of HR teams?

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Adobe Stock

What is the idea behind GDPR?

It’s fair to say that legislation has failed to keep pace with the speed at which technology and big data has advanced – particularly our ability to gather, store and analyze data. GDPR is therefore designed to enhance data protection and the right to privacy for EU citizens, giving them greater control over their personal data and how it is used.

GDPR represents a complete overhaul of the legal requirements that must be met by any company handling EU citizens’ personal data – and that includes employees’ personal data.

The implications of GDPR are not to be sneezed at. Companies who fall foul of the regulation and are found to be misusing personal information face stiff fines of up to €20m or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater of the two.

Why HR teams need to get consent for employee data

Consent is a critical pillar of the new legislation, and GDPR states that companies can only use personal data for the express purpose for which it was given. For HR teams, this means employees must explicitly opt in to allow their employer to use their personal data, and they must be made fully aware of how that data will be used.

In other words, you need to be transparent with your employees about what data is being collected, for what purpose, and how that data will be used. This can be clarified through a simple data privacy statement that’s signed by employees. Then, crucially, you can only use the data for the purpose for which it was handed over; if you want to use the data for a different purpose, you should seek new permission.

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