UK: GDPR: Preparing For Change! What Do Employers And HR Teams Need To Know? Part 1: Overview Of The New Rules

Notwithstanding Brexit, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be implemented in the UK and will bring about the greatest ever reform of our current laws on data protection as of 25 May 2018.

In the first of our series of blogs on the GDPR and preparing for change, we take a look at how your business will be obliged to comply with these upcoming changes; and with personal information playing a key role in any business, the task ahead, whilst manageable, will have to be planned for, resourced and implemented.

As featured on

What kind of data are we talking about?

The GDPR, just as it does with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), will cover all personal data that your business collects and processes. Employers and their HR departments will frequently deal with employees, volunteers, consultants, interns and a host of other individuals; with each comes interviews, meeting notes, record keeping and your day to day admin brings processing payroll, pensions, dealing with grievances and so on. Your business will hold and process personal data as part of your role on a daily basis.

Key changes for HR departments and employers

So, to save you reading the entirety of the GPDR (all 260 pages!), we will highlight some of the most significant changes that HR teams and employers need to be aware of, and in the rest of our mini-series we will tackle how to plan for these changes:

  • Transparency and Accountability: Under the GDPR there is the introduction of a general requirement for organisations to be accountable about data processing and a greater emphasis on transparency. This will impact how an organisation requests data (ensuring the data subject is informed what data is being collected about them, for what purposes and how the data will be used), processes data and responds to the rights of data subjects. Organisations will need to keep up-to-date records to ensure they can demonstrate compliance with the GDPR and focus on being accountable and transparent about how they work with data.
  • Employee rights: As data subjects, employees already have a bundle of rights; the most important from the employer/HR perspective is probably the subject access right. These rights remain, however they are enhanced under the GDPR, bringing with it greater accountability and increased administration. The other rights of employees as data subjects include (1) the right to be informed; (2) the right to be forgotten; (3) the right to data portability; and (4) the right to rectification and restriction. Such additional rights are likely to affect the current data management practices of HR teams.
  • Data Breach Notification: Under the GDPR, businesses will be required to notify data breaches within 72 hours. This new time limit means that businesses must have a clear policy for data breach notification to ensure that they are able to design their notification processes to meet the GDPR obligations. The roll-out of such a policy is highly likely to involve HR teams.
  • How you gather data about your employees: Currently, employers have to inform all employees of the types of information they record and for what purposes. This obligation continues but in an enhanced form, and is likely to mean changes to your data protection policies, statements in contracts of employment and contracts with other workers.
  • Subject Access Requests (SARs): The major change around SARs brought in by the GDPR is that the time limit for responding to a SAR is shortened from 40 days under the Data Protection Act 1998 to one month under GDPR. The GDPR also makes it generally easier for data subjects to make SARs, and employers, under the GDPR, will no longer be able to charge the £10 fee for dealing with SARs. We will discuss SARs more in the final blog in this series since this area deserves a blog of its own.
  • Appointment of a Data Protection Officer (or "DPO"): For some of you reading this today, this may soon be a requirement under the GDPR. For organisations dealing in data whose core activities (i) involve the regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale; or (ii) the large scale processing of special categories of data (meaning the likes of health data, political opinions, religious and racial and ethnic origin data), it may/will come as a surprise that the same legal obligation will apply to your organisation.
  • Record keeping: Through the increased focus on transparency and accountability, there will be much tighter standards upon the nature of data employers can retain and for how long, meaning that the retention periods for records will need to be identified and monitored and you will also need to keep better records of your decision making process. Keeping improved records will be key to demonstrating GDPR compliance.
  • Privacy by design and PIAs: The GDPR advocates privacy by design – which means that employers will be obliged to adopt an approach that promotes privacy and data protection compliance from the outset of any project or process. For example, if your business outsources your pension administration requirements, what will you need to do under GDPR that you don't need to do now? HR teams will need to consider carrying out Privacy Impact Assessments at the beginning of any new process so that privacy is "baked" into the process from the beginning. So if you are thinking of changing or upgrading your payroll system or introducing a new HR management system for example; you will need to assess the privacy implications before implementation.

These are only a few of the changes and we will highlight and discuss these in more detail during this mini-series.

Why should HR teams care?

Under the GDPR, fines will be significantly increased (currently the maximum fine that can be enforced by the ICO is £500k), and will be levied on a two-tier basis:

  • up to the greater of 2% annual worldwide turnover for the preceding financial year of the organisations or EUR 10 million – this is for breaches related to internal record keeping, data processor contracts, DPOs, data protection by design and default; or
  • up to the greater of 4% annual worldwide turnover of preceding financial year or EUR 20 million for major breaches related to issues such as consent and data subjects' rights.

What should HR teams do?

Employers and HR professionals might be forgiven for thinking that May 2018 is a long way from now and that they can afford to postpone taking preparatory steps. The Information Commissioner's Office has already stated that there will be no leniency come 25 May 2018 – we have had two years to prepare! However, the change for employers cannot be underestimated and employers should be considering preparing now.

So, how can employers prepare?

  • Review existing data protection policies and practices including employment contracts, staff handbooks and employee policies.
  • Review and update current procedures for handling SARs.
  • Identify staff members (e.g. future DPO) who require training on the upcoming changes and appoint someone to oversee compliance with the reforms.
  • Know when PIAs should be used, who should be involved and the process to be adopted.
  • Read our upcoming blogs, on the below subjects, for more detail and advice:

    • employee rights under GDPR;
    • lawful processing;
    • employee monitoring;
    • data breach notifications; and
    • Subject Access Requests.

The next in this mini-series, 'Employee rights under GDPR', will be out next week! We are running seminars on the GDPR in May and June. If you would like to know more about how your organisation can prepare for the GDPR, sign up by clicking on the most suitable date below:

Prepare your business for the GDPR – 18 May 2017 (Edinburgh)

Prepare your business for the GDPR – 25 May 2017 (Glasgow)

Prepare your business for the GDPR – 1 June 2017 (Stirling)

Prepare your business for the GDPR – 8 June 2017 (Dundee)

© MacRoberts 2017


The material contained in this article is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions