The Practical Lawyer


GDPR – references

GDPR impacts on the giving of references:

Draw up a clear policy on references: the ICO has said that employers should have a clear policy setting out which employees are authorised to provide references and in what circumstances. Importantly, they should have a policy of not providing confidential references unless they have the consent of the employee, because this will involve processing personal data. The recommendation is that, as part of an exit policy, information should be put on the employee’s file about whether they wish for references to be provided after they have left.

Sensitive personal data: employers need to proceed with caution if disclosing information about an employee’s reason for absences (eg sick leave), or any other particularly sensitive personal information. They will need to adhere to GDPR and ensure they received the consent of the individual before revealing such information (otherwise there could be financial sanctions for breach).

Document retention policy: employers should not retain documents for longer than necessary. They may want to retain information on former staff for at least six years (the limitation period for breach of contract and tort claims). After this, they may decide it is better to delete information, even if it means they are unable to respond to a reference request, or retain only minimal information such as date of employment and job title.

The big warning here is take care in processing and supplying confidential personal data. See article in [2018] 191 Employment Law Journal 12.


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GDPR impacts on the giving of references:


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