UK: GDPR In The Employment Context

Last Updated: 14 August 2017
Article by Stuart McBride

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018.

GDPR brings in a number of changes to the way in which organisations deal with personal data and significantly increase the fines that may be levied for cases of non-compliance. We consider a number of key actions that need to be taken in the employment context when handling employee personal data in order to be ready for GDPR.

Data Mapping

One of the first key steps is to ensure that you have a good understanding of all of the employee data that is collected, how it is used and how it is shared. It is important to do this for two main reasons: (i) in order to be able to comply with new record keeping requirements under GDPR; and (ii) to ensure that procedures, policies and documentation are updated to comply with the new requirements.

The data mapping exercise might be part of a wider GDPR project undertaken by your organisation. However, if this is not already on-going we recommend that a data mapping exercise for employee data is carried out as soon as possible.

Review of employee privacy notices

GDPR requires a much wider range of information to be provided to job applicants and employees about the way in which their personal data will be handled. It is therefore necessary to review the points at which data is collected in the employment context and to update privacy notices provided to individuals at those points. This will include information gathered from applicants and also information gathered from employees during the course of their employment.

We recommend that privacy notices are provided in a stand-alone document rather than within the employment contract itself. This enables the employer to update the privacy notice from time to time without having to update employment contracts. Information could be provided in a stand-alone employee privacy policy or as part of an employee hand book or similar document.

Review of consent mechanisms

Under GDPR the standard to obtain valid consent has been raised. Consent must be specific, freely given, informed and unambiguous. This means that a clear, positive action must be taken by the individual to indicate consent and the individual must be fully informed as to what they are consenting to.

It is difficult in the employment context to obtain valid consent due to the nature of the relationship between the parties. It is therefore recommended that a review is carried out to identify where consent is being relied upon. In most cases it is likely to be possible to rely on a different legal basis to justify processing of employment data. This could be because there is a statutory obligation to process the data, because it is necessary to process the data to fulfil a contractual obligation or it is in the legitimate interest of the employee to process the data and this is not outweighed by the rights of the individuals.

In cases where consent is required because no other legal basis is available then it will be necessary to review the relevant consent mechanisms and ensure they comply with the higher requirements under GDPR. It is important to note that it is not possible to obtain a valid consent under GDPR by embedding it within wider employment terms and conditions. Any such consent will need to be separated out and be distinct from the wider terms and conditions.

Individuals' rights

Existing rights under the Data Protection Act remain in place, although the timeframes for compliance are reduced to one month and the £10 fee for subject access requests is being abolished. Organisations will therefore need to review their existing procedures to ensure that they will be able to comply with subject access requests within a shorter timeframe.

GDPR also introduces a number of new rights. This includes the right of data erasure, right of data portability and right to object to processing. It will be necessary for employers to consider the ways in which such rights might be exercised by employees and the procedures that will be followed within the business to ensure that those rights are respected.

It will also be important to ensure that procedures are documented as GDPR brings in a new "accountability" requirement, which requires organisations to ensure that they document the measures they are taking to enable compliance with GDPR.

DPO assessment

Some organisations will have to appoint a data protection officer (DPO). A DPO must be appointed by public authorities and by private companies if they are carrying out monitoring of individuals on a large scale (for example via CCTV) or if they are processing sensitive personal data on a large scale. Organisations will need to consider whether any of these triggers are met and, if so, a DPO must be appointed.

DPOs have certain protections under the GDPR which means that they cannot be dismissed unless they are failing to fulfil their role as DPO. It is also necessary for the DPO to have a direct reporting line into senior management, to be established as an independent role and not to have any conflict of interest with other activities that may be undertaken by the individual.

We recommend that organisations carry out an assessment of whether they need a DPO and document that assessment as soon as possible. If a DPO does need to be appointed then it will be important to ensure that an individual with the appropriate qualifications and expertise is appointed to comply with GDPR requirements. The nature and structure of the role will also need to be considered to ensure that it meets the independence obligations.

Next Steps

The GDPR brings with it various changes that employers need to put in place by 25 May 2018. We can help you navigate this changing area of the law. Please get in touch to discuss this further.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific 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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

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.

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 by clicking here .

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.


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.