Privacy at work


Most private and public organisations keep files on the people they deal with, whether as employees, customers, clients or contractors. Decisions are made about people based on the contents of these files, and often by people who don’t know you from Adam. If the information held about you is incomplete, inaccurate, and unfair or used in a way that is detrimental to you your rights may be infringed. The Data Protection Act 1998 and other pieces of legislation protect your private information and allow it to be used or “processed” in specified circumstances. You also have the right to see files containing your information in order to challenge and correct inaccuracies.

To use this service, scroll down to Related Pages  where you will find detailed guidance with signposts to the best of what is available on the web. Below that, under Related Resources you will find Employee Rescue Legal Guides, with templates, tactics and detailed information to help you with your case. There are more resources in the E-Book shop. You can also use the search facility or the site map to go straight to what you need.  If you need more help contact us and we are happy to help with specific information, advice and directions on what to do.


News archives on privacy at work

Employers can read workers private messages says European Court

The Guardian view on snooping at work

Is your employer allowed to watch you?

The Law

The main legislation covering data protection is the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The other laws about data protection include;

The Information Commissioners Office

Reporting directly to the UK Parliament, the Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent supervisory authority which ensures that organisations which process data do so in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), Freedom of Information Act 2000, (FOI Act) the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/3391). Among other responsibilities the Information Commissioner’s office;

  • publishes extensive guidance and develops codes of practice designed to assist individuals and organisations comply with the legislation
  • maintains a public register of Data Controllers under the DPA and the list of public authorities with approved publication schemes under the FOI Act
  • prosecutes persons in respect of offences committed under the legislation.

The Information Commissioner’s website has very comprehensive information and guidance on good practice. The Office publishes codes of practice, good practice notes, technical guidance notes and other guidance.

See the list of Codes relevant to employment HERE.

The codes and guidance are not legally enforceable but the Commissioner will take note of a breach or disregard of the eight data principles in any enforcement action.

The Employment Practices Code is the main code of practice covering employment. It is in four parts which are available on the website and as a pdf in a single document. The code is supplemented by the Employment Practices Code: Supplementary Guidance in addressing the rights of workers and employees. It is in four parts, covering;

  1. Recruitment and selection
  2. Employment records
  3. Monitoring at work
  4. Information about workers health

Contact Employee Rescue if you have concerns about being monitored at work


Best of the web

ICO – Quick guide to the employment practices code

TUC – Your right to privacy at work

GOV.UK – Being monitored at work; workers rights

WorkSmart – Monitoring at work

CAB – Monitoring at work



This resource is published by Employee Rescue Limited. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained herein is provided free of charge for information purposes only. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. Employee Rescue accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this update. Further specialist advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this summary. No part of this summary may be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the prior permission of Employee Rescue Ltd.


Case Study

In the Scottish case of Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd [2003], Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed. Ms Collins had been the manager of Victoria Wine, run by First Quench Retailing, for about ten years. When Mrs Collins started in the shop she had been concerned about security and raised this with management. Since 1977 there had been 13 reported crimes at the shop, including five thefts, one minor assault, one serious assault and one assault with intent to rob. There were two armed robberies in 1994 and four... Read More
Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed.Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd
Business, Finance & Law