UK: Is Your Employee Data Handling Process Compliant Across Your Locations?

Last Updated: 12 October 2018
Article by Darren Beal

Employing people brings with it a lot of paperwork - from information about training, skills and recruitment to personal and confidential details such as addresses, pay and disciplinary records.

While much of this information used to be stored in filing cabinets in HR offices, it is increasingly being digitised. This carries huge advantages – but also risks.

As use of cloud-based HR analytics rises, so too does the risk of data breaches. And with an increasing amount of regulation focusing on how personal data is handled, HR teams must have a clear, strict and transparent process for the storage and use of any data they hold on their employees.

What is considered "employee data"?

This is both the information you hold on individual employees, and on the workforce in its entirety. It is any data you keep for analysis, such as from tracking holidays, bonuses, maternity leave, healthcare and other benefits, to performance, diversity or absenteeism across offices.

This data can help HR administrators to gain insights into workforce trends, which in turn can aid decision-making at the highest level. For example, if your top decision-makers have insight into employee performance or skills gaps, they can alter business strategy accordingly.

Whether this data is kept online, on a desktop or in a file, there are regulations dictating how you handle and store the information.

Keeping it up-to-date

Ongoing maintenance of employee data is a challenge in itself.

During an employee's time with your company an individual may take holidays, get married, have children, suffer an illness or be successful in getting a promotion. Each of these changes will require an update to your records. Multiplied across an entire workforce and the volume of data becomes huge – but the consequences of errors are severe.

It's the magnitude of maintaining this employee data that becomes an administrative burden for HR professionals, where common pressure points include accurate record keeping and timely updates to meet employee expectations or governmental regulation.

The risk of local non-compliance

One of the largest recent compliance changes is the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the management of an individual's personal data – and this personal data could include your employees' payroll or staff numbers. Theoretically, the consequences of breaching GDPR regulations can be huge, so compliance must be checked carefully in every jurisdiction.

Another example is eSocial, the Brazilian government's project to unify the sending of employer and employee data. It's a digital bookkeeping, tax, social security and labour obligations tool rolled into one. This single system will replace the need to send separate reporting to Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service and Brazil's Ministry of Labor and Employment. The expectation is that eSocial will reduce bureaucracy and increase corporate responsibility in providing information. But again, this is a new change that employers with operations in Brazil must keep abreast of, or face penalties.

Where an HR professional is supporting numerous countries it can be very difficult to keep up-to-date with changes in local procedures and regulation. Therefore it's important to work with local partners that can fulfil this knowledge and skills gap to help you remain locally compliant.

How we can help

While cultural differences may be found in expectations, one thing is certain wherever you are: employees expect accurate record-keeping because mistakes can be very personal to them.

Managing employee data in an efficient and compliant way can be cumbersome if you're not up-to-date with regulations in every country or jurisdiction where you have an office - and particularly for those remote or smaller offices where there is no on-site HR presence.

TMF Group can help. Our HR administration services include data maintenance and monitoring, and administration of aspects including leave, benefits and fixed-term contracts. Download our eBook to discover the importance of HR administration, or contact one of our local experts. With operations worldwide, TMF Group can support your employees throughout their time with your company - from getting started all the way through to moving on.

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.

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