Worker data rights

Posted by Flux on 

21 September 2023

What’s trending? 

Calls for worker data rights are growing. Workers lack proper protection for the data that employers collect about them. The range collected is wide, depending on the type of industry involved, company policies and legal regulations. These include HR information, time and motion data, geo-location data, shift and scheduling data, personal payroll data and biometric data (such as facial recognition). The amount of information that organisations gathered on their employees grew exponentially during the pandemic. Now experts are calling for interventions to protect employee data. Elisabeth Joyce, vice president at  Gartner HR advisory services, is calling for organisations to create an employee data bill of rights, which balances employee privacy with the legitimate and necessary analytics employers need to collect. 

Why is it important? 

When data is not properly protected, it can be used for purposes other than what it was originally collected for. It can result in the exposure of personal information, such as names, addresses, ID numbers and contact details, all of which can be exploited for identity theft, harassment or fraud. Employers may also possess sensitive employee health or financial data and not safeguarding this could lead to breaches of medical privacy or financial security. Unprotected data can also be used to discriminate against employees based on various factors, including race, gender, age, religion, or political beliefs. Employers may make biassed decisions about promotions, raises, or hiring, which can limit workers’ career advancement opportunities. The knowledge that their data is not protected can erode employee trust in the employer. This in turn can negatively impact the overall work environment and job satisfaction.

What can businesses do about it? 

Employers should prioritise data security and privacy to create a safe and trusting work environment that promotes the wellbeing and advancement of employees. Additionally, legal and regulatory frameworks should be put into place to enforce data protection and privacy rights for workers as non-compliance can result in significant legal and financial consequences for employers. “Companies need to create end-to-end processes that ensure their decisions around collecting and using data are ethical and transparent,” said Chantal Steen, global director of Gartner HR advisory services. “Very few employees trust their organisations to use data collected about them in the right ways. And that lack of trust and transparency can harm employee performance.”

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