We often receive calls from clients who are struggling to obtain copies of their personal data from their employer/former employer. In these circumstances, one option available is to submit a Subject Access Request (“SAR”). Please read on to find out more.
There are many reasons why you may need copies of your personal data (i.e., information relating to you) from your employer/former employer. For example, you may have simply misplaced documentation; it may be necessary to fulfil a particular task; you may be preparing for a disciplinary appeal or a redundancy consultation meeting; or, alternatively, you may be pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal against your employer/former employer.
For example, personal data could include:
- Your contract of employment / offer letter;
- Personnel records (including records of your sickness absence, annual leave, performance, or disciplinary warnings etc);
- Your payslips;
- Notes taken from meetings (such as 1:1s, appraisals, disciplinary hearings etc); or
- Emails, letters or messages about you sent to or from particular managers or colleagues.
Please read on below to find out how to obtain the above (and any other personal data) from your employer or former employer.
If you require copies of any of your personal data, it is usually best to start by making an informal request for this to your employer/former employer. Here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we would always recommend making such request in writing (for example, via email to HR), to ensure you a have paper trail in the event of a later dispute.
Making a simple request to your employer/former employer may be the only step needed to obtain your required personal data. If this is the case, all to the good.
Subject Access Request
However, if an informal request is unsuccessful or, alternatively, you consider such informal request is inappropriate (for example, if your former employer is likely to ignore your correspondence or matters have become contentious), you may wish to submit a Subject Access Request.
To explain, a Subject Access Request (also known as a SAR) is a formal request you can make to your employer/former employer for personal data they hold about you. Under the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018), you have the right to request whether personal data is being processed. If your employer/former employer holds personal data relating to you, you are also entitled to obtain a copy of that personal data.
One benefit of a Subject Access Request is that you can request copies of personal data which otherwise may not be forthcoming via an informal request to your employer/former employer. For example, in a Subject Access Request, you can request copies of any correspondence (such as emails, messages, letters) between colleagues that contain your name. If such correspondence is requested as part of a formal Subject Access Request, you are entitled to obtain a copy of any of that data. This can be particularly helpful in gathering evidence to support an Employment Tribunal claim, for example.
For more information about how to make a Subject Access Request and what personal data to request, please see our blog here – https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/can-i-make-a-subject-access-request-to-my-employer/
When Should I Receive My Personal Data from My Employer/Former Employer?
Once you have made a Subject Access Request to your employer, they should deal with your request without undue delay and, in any event, within one month of receipt.
Importantly, however, they can delay their response if they consider it to be manifestly excessive or unfounded. It is therefore very important you think carefully about limiting your request accordingly. If your employer/former employer does consider your request is too excessive, they should inform you about the delay (which could be up to a further two months).
What Happens If My Employer/Former Employer Fails to Comply With My Subject Access Request?
Here at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we often advise clients in respect of submitting Subject Access Requests to their employer/former employer. Unfortunately, we also often advise clients in situations where their Subject Access Request has not been dealt with correctly. Most commonly, this includes where their employer/former employer has:
- Failed to deal with their Subject Access Request completely – for example, after receiving the request, they have taken no further action to search for (and provide copies of) our client’s personal data.
- Provided the relevant data out of time (i.e., they have taken longer than one month to deal with the request and made no attempt to alert our client to any required time extension).
- Attempted to prolong their compliance by (unjustly) claiming the Subject Access Request was manifestly excessive/unfounded.
In these circumstances, we always advise our clients to firstly raise a complaint with their employer/former employer directly in writing. If this is unsuccessful, a further option is to report the employer/former employer to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
As above, we often advise our clients about making Subject Access Requests to their employer/former employer. Therefore, if you would like further assistance with making a Subject Access Request, please contact us for a no obligation, free consultation. Simply use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512 and we will be happy to help.
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors