The Application Of Data Protection Law To The Employment Sector

AuthorGemma Neylon
By Gemma Neylon
Employment relationships involve the supply and collection of personal information,
including sensitive personal information. This process includes the collection of
information for the purposes of recruitment, paying wages, deducting taxes and union
dues, complying with health and safety laws, and assessing performance. Some
practices, such as the monitoring of employee’s Internet and email access, highlight
controversial issues of privacy1.
Data protection legislation, the Data Protection Act 1988 as amended by the Data
Protection Act (Amendment) 2003 (which incorporated the 1995 Data Protection
Directive 95/46/EC), supplements the common law in this area and places more
formal obligations on employer organisations about how they handle employee
information2. This essay will consider privacy issues and practical data protection
issues that often arise in employment situations, with particular focus on issues arising
from recruitment and employee monitoring.
Relevant Legislation
The 2003 Data Protection (Amendment) Act has updated the 1988 Act to fully
implement the provisions of the 1995 Directive, the basic principles of which had
already been introduced. The main changes, which the 1995 Directive has brought
about, are:
Extending the application of the rules to paper files;
Requiring consent to process personal information;
Extending the registration requirements of data processors and controllers;
*This essay was awarded the Conway Kelliher Tobin prize 2005.
1 A&L Goodbody, A Practical Guide to Data protection Law in Ireland, (Round Hall P ress, 2003)
Chap. 5 For a general overview of the application of data protection law to the employme nt sector
2 Ibid

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