Policy News Journal - 2014-15

There is a well-established lawful process for checking criminal records, but some rogue employers have tried to bypass that by demanding prospective employees use their rights under the Data Protection Act (DPA) to see information held about them. This ‘enforced subject access’ bypasses the legal criminal record check process, overriding safeguards that only allow for checks and disclosure of information appropriate to the role being applied for. The practice has been outlawed from 10 March, when a provision in the DPA has finally been implemented after a 17 year wait. This makes it a criminal offence to require an individual to make a subject access request to get information about their convictions and cautions and provide that information to a person. While the offence will often be linked to a job application, the law applies to any enforced subject access request required before entering into a contract for goods, facilities or services. This means it could also affect landlords or insurance companies, for instance. An individual providing the results of a subject access request, rather than using the formal criminal record check system, runs the risk of sharing more information than they need to. This is because a subject access request requires all personal information to be disclosed (subject to some exemptions), and so could include cautions and spent convictions, which may not be shared in a formal criminal record check if they would be irrelevant to the reason for the check.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has published guidance setting out the offence, which is created under section 56 of the Data Protection Act:

Large UK businesses will be required to publicise their gender pay gaps

18 March 2015

UK businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees within the next 12 months.

Out-Law.com reports that the Liberal Democrats have secured the backing of the government for its plans, which were to be introduced to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill during a recent debate in the House of Lords. The nature of the proposed amendment means that ministers on the government payroll will vote in favour of it. Jo Swinson, the government's minister for employment relations and equalities, said that the new requirement would "force companies to ask themselves difficult questions about how they are valuing the contribution of women in their workforce and act to address problems".

However, employment law expert Linda Jones of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out- Law.com, said,

"This change in the law has been agreed by government after it was revealed that only five large employers are reporting on equal pay on a voluntary basis, under the government's 'Think Act Report' scheme. This is hardly surprising, as equal pay reporting can be very time- consuming and also employers are worried that they may be opening a can of worms following all of the publicity about the local government equal pay cases. What is more surprising is that this measure, which will potentially have a significant impact on employers, appears to have been brought in under the radar with very little debate or consultation."

Acas Early Conciliation update

12 March 2015

CIPP Policy News Journal

08/04/2015, Page 84 of 521

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