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Employees reluctant to give personal information to HR, finds survey


One third of all workers in the country believe their employers or personnel departments have no right to hold personal information confidentially on record, according to the Employment Attitudes Survey commissioned by Eden Brown.

Of those workers willing for certain personal details to be known about them 48% don’t mind giving their mobile phone number, 30% their e-mail address and 22% details of their family or domestic situation. Only a minority are willing for details of their religion (16%), financial situation (12%) or sexual orientation (8%) to be held on record.

Women (27%) are more likely to accept their domestic details to be held compared with men (19%). Workers in the North West (21%) are also more willing for their financial circumstances to be known compared with only 6% in Scotland. Similarly workers in the North West are less inhibited about their sexual orientation (12%) than the Scots (4%). Men are more secretive about their personal affairs (36%) than women (29%).

Eden Brown have pointed out that HR needs some details to ensure that employees get any benefits to which they might be entitled. For example, an employee who withholds the fact from his/her employer he/she is a parent may lose out on family healthcare benefit (or parental leave) to which she could be entitled. If an employee does not disclose he or she has a live-in partner then he or she cannot be given full insurance cover for health benefit. The employer is legally bound to keep such information confidential.

Most companies as a matter of standard procedure do ask for basic personal information when interviewing or employing new candidates. Health details are also helpful to an employer if they are to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person with health problems. The Data Protection Act 1998 came into force on 1 March 2000 but does not become fully effective until 23 October 2007.

General information about the Act is available at For this area, choose Codes of Practice here, and then Employment Part 2: Records Management. OneClickHR also offer a guide to the responsibilities of HR Managers on sister site TrainingZONE.

What's your experience of the Data Protection Act so far? Let us know what effect it's had on your working practices by posting a comment below, or by e-mailing the Editor.


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