As individuals become better educated on the threats against cybersecurity and the damage that can occur from identity theft, it raises the question – at what point can employees refuse to share personal data with an employer?

Written by Joe Murphy – Managing Director National Workplace, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors

Building trust and proceeding reasonably are critical when an employer is exercising its rights to collect information.

If you have a workplace culture built on communication and trust that properly informs employees when, why and how you collect their personal data, you should experience minimal resistance.

Whatever personal data you collect, keep these rules in mind:

1. Communicate: Tell employees what data you need and why, at every point of collection. If they understand the rationale behind it, cooperation should follow.

2. Document: Make policies available to employees at the start, and frequently remind them of what data you collect, and why and how it will be used.

3. Secure: Access to employee records and data should be restricted to the few who need it to do their job, as well as the employee. Giving the employee equal access is considered best practice.

If you collect data or monitor your employees, you should communicate clear workplace policies to avoid repercussions should an unfair dismissal claim arise.

Have a policy for email and internet use, social media, drug and alcohol testing, and personal data collection.

Next steps

Whether fingerprint scans or health records, handling employees’ personal data can be a grey area. Review your methods of collection, the purpose of the data and the security measures adopted.

Bring in relevant departments that have a role in protecting the privacy of employees. If in doubt, get professional advice on whether your current processes are best practice and would stand up in court if challenged.

If this article has raised any issues for your business, get in touch on 1300 565 846 or

A version of this article first appeared on Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors.

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