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Do I have a right to know what information my employer has collected through monitoring me at work?
Yes. The Data Protection Act gives you the right to know the type of personal information your employer holds about you, why that information is being held, how the information is being used or will be used, and who will be able to access that information. This is known as a data subject access request. There is information on the website of the Information Commissioner explaining how to make a request.
You can write to your employer, asking for a copy of the personal information held about you, provided this is held either on a computerised system, or is held on paper and is organised into a 'relevant filing system' (in other words, is held in a fairly sophisticated, structured filing system, so that the information about you is easily located). You can be asked to pay a fee of up to £10. Your employer can refuse your request if releasing the information would:
- involve a breach of confidence owed to someone else;
- involve a disproportionate effort; or
- damage ongoing negotiations between you and your employer (for example, about pay).
Where the employer does not want to hand over documents because of concerns about revealing someone else’s identity, you can ask your employer to blank out the name of that other person.
To avoid an objection by your employer on the basis that complying with your request would involve ‘disproportionate effort’, it is sensible to make sure it is as clear, simple and narrow as possible.
You can also ask your employer to correct, delete or destroy any personal information held about you that is factually incorrect. This could be especially important in relation to disciplinary records or information about your health.