Page 4 of 7
Your Firm and the Data Protection Act
3. Recruitment Data
When recruiting new staff, it is important to bear in mind data protection considerations.
3.1 You are required to be open about your own identity and methods.
- If you are advertising for a new employee you must make it plain who you are.
- If you intend to check up on potential recruits you should say so in advance.
3.2 Keep your questions relevant to the job.
- Beware of being unnecessarily intrusive.
- Be particularly careful in asking for sensitive personal information.
- If you need to ask about criminal convictions, ask at the end of the recruitment process, just before you offer the successful candidate a job. Asking all the candidates at the beginning could be unnecessarily intrusive.
3.3 Remember that applicants have a right to see all the information you hold on them.
- This could include interview notes. Play safe by recruiting against objective criteria and only making notes in relation to these.
- It also includes references sent to you by a previous employer. If a third party is implicated (eg the author of the reference letter), you must provide as much information as possible without revealing their identity. The Information Commissioner's Office has issued a Good Practice Note on references and subject access requests. For more information visit www.ico.gov.uk.
3.4 Be prepared to destroy your files on unsuccessful applicants.
- But you can keep enough on your files to justify your selection of an applicant to an Employment Tribunal if an unsuccessful candidate complains of discrimination.