COVID-19, data protection and common concerns
The ICO has indicated that in these challenging times employers should adopt a proportionate approach to data protection giving guidance on the following key areas of concern:
Do data protection laws prevent employees from working at home?
Data protection laws should not prevent homeworking during the pandemic.
Does the current situation negate the need for data security measures when employees are working remotely?
No. Employers should introduce the same security measures as they would usually adopt for all homeworkers.
It is our view that employers implementing widescale homeworking should introduce clear guidelines to manage expectations, control health and safety and protect confidentiality and data.
In the case of data security and confidentiality for homeworking, we would recommend as a starting point that employers:
- Assess the risk of a data breach arising from homeworking. This will assist to identify what measures and controls need to be introduced.
- Ensure employees are aware that data security and confidentiality is their responsibility. Now is the time to direct them to your policies governing IT and communications, data protection and data retention. Consideration should be given as to whether these may need to be updated to reflect homeworking.
- Issue specific guidance relevant to the business regarding data security in the context of homeworking. For example, the mandatory use of encryption and passwords, keeping all papers securely and not allowing household members to use company IT equipment.
Make sure employees know what to do and who to contact if they discover a security or data breach.
Can we tell employees about cases of COVID-19?
Yes. Staff should be kept informed about cases of COVID-19. This is on the basis employers need to satisfy their duty of care regarding health and safety. Individuals must not be named and no more information than is necessary should be provided.
What if we are asked by the public health authorities to share employee health information?
Organisations may share employees’ health information with authorities for public health purposes.
FG Solicitors are experts in all areas of Employment Law and HR, including Data Protection and we can provide guidance around the issues that may arise if you are currently transitioning from office-based working to homeworking. Feel free to call us on 0808 172 9322 for a no obligation discussion.
Romance and the workplace: should employers regulate?
Recent studies indicate that one in five people met their significant other through work. This outranks online dating, introductions through mutual friends and meeting at a bar or club.
Therefore, when it comes to an employee’s right to a private life and the employer’s right to protect its business interests, it is crucial to adopt a balanced framework and accompanying policies. Such policies should express clearly that a company has no wish to interfere in the private lives of their employees, however it is necessary to ensure that all employees, regardless of their seniority or job title, act in an appropriate and professional manner at all times.
The impact of romantic relationships in the workplace varies, and although it may be argued in some cases that the success of a company can be measured by the success of these relationships. It is important to acknowledge the risks and dangers office relationships can have to the culture, performance and integrity of the business.
Employers face having to deal with an increase in personal relationships at work. Whether its personal spats invading a professional environment, pillow talk risking the confidential integrity of the business or the effects of divorce between staff members, it is pertinent for employers to implement relevant policies to protect business interests and effectively run their organisation.
Encouraging honest communication between an employee and employer is vital. Employers should establish with staff members their expectations that employees will keep their private and professional life separate to avoid the risk of relationships crossing over departments or individuals entering into relationships for their own professional gain, the company must consider the necessary safeguarding measures.
The initial precautionary step an employer can take, is to review the current staff handbook for any existing regulations concerning workplace relationships. In order to effectively manage any potential negative issues, employers may want to implement guidelines that employees must adhere to. For example, a company can require employees to notify and disclose an ongoing close relationship for which a relevant impact assessment can be carried out. This way the business is aware of the type of relationships that are developing, can manage the potential problems which may occur and identify what steps need to be taken to protect the business. In addition, an employer can apply policies which prohibit any romantic associations between staff.
The drafting of such policies should be tailored to the company’s needs and interests, with emphasis on the core fundamentals an employer expects of its staff. It should inform the individual that their conduct is to act appropriately and in the best interests of the company, without any impairment of their judgement or undue influence on their behaviour from their significant other. To maintain an honest and transparent relationship with the company to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. To act with integrity, therefore avoiding any preferential treatment between senior level staff and their juniors. Finally, to retain a professional manner in all dealings with and on behalf of the company, including their etiquette when communicating both internally and externally with their partner.
FG Solicitors are experts in all areas of Employment Law and HR and we can guide your business through any difficulties you may face like this one. Feel free to call us on 0808 172 9322 for a no obligation discussion.
The last thing any business owner wants is a lawsuit. If you’re careful it’s an avoidable business risk, unless you have outdated employee contracts and policies. Then you may be risking one of your employees taking action against your company.
Employment law is continually changing. To protect your company you need to ensure your employee contracts and policies are updated and maintained on a regular basis. At FG Solicitors we specialise in Employment Law and proactively work with our clients to ensure their documents are working for them.
If you want to find out more or get in contact please visit http://www.fgsolicitors.co.uk/hr-review/
The temptation and the problem
London 2012 corporate hospitality packages – on the face of it, fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to create an impression and promote business. However, organisations and clients are not necessarily taking advantage of these opportunities and not just because of the hefty cost of tickets (the cost to attend the opening ceremony on 27 July is as high as £7,500 per person).
At a recent Business Ethics debate at the House of Lords, held by GoodCorporation, senior figures in some of the UK’s leading companies confirmed that when it comes to hospitality, Olympic tickets are the most likely to be turned down and the reason for this – the Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) which came into force little less than a year ago.