• International Workplace
  • 2 May 2002

New guidance on data protection in the workplace, published by Workplacelaw Network

The Workplacelaw Network has published its Special Report – "Data Protection, Human Rights, and RIP Acts – Special Report", which is aimed at helping employers, workplace managers, HR departments and consultants (in both the public and private sectors) to comply these three pieces of complex new legislation. The Report is written by Bernadette Livesey, a leading Human Rights Solicitor at Walker Morris.

This Special Report is designed to be a practical guide for these managers to RIPA, DPA and HRA – three pieces of legislation that are strongly connected. Compliance with legislation is not optional and non-compliance carries penalties. This Report aims to provide an overview of the legal practical issues relevant together with practical advice.

The Report covers a wide range of practical topics, including: processing personal and sensitive data, workplace surveillance (including record-keeping), CCTV, enforcement of the legislation, access to information, security of information, and employment issues (including religion and belief, trade unions, race relations, and TUPE). The Report also contains extracts from the legislation.

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth France, comments:

"I am pleased that the Workplacelaw Network has decided to produce a guide to the Data Protection Act for UK employers. I hope that it will help them to come to terms with a piece of legislation that has great practical implications for the way in which they handle records about those that they employ. It is particularly useful that the guide draws together guidance on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and on other relevant legislation."

Copies of "Data Protection, Human Rights, and RIP Acts – Special Report" (priced £49.50, ISBN 1-900-648-18-0) can be ordered from the Workplacelaw Network – Tel. 0870 777 8881, Fax. 0870 777 8882, Email



1. The Workplacelaw Network supplies legal support and information to over 17,000 UK managers and employers, including property, HR and health and safety managers. See for more information. Press contact: Samantha Colella, 0870 777 8881,

2. The Workplacelaw Network - in association with Bird & Bird solicitors - is organising a legal seminar to help members to get to grips with the new Code of Practice on employment practices. The seminar will take place in central London on 9 May 2002 in central London, starting at 5pm. Places cost £25 – to book your place, please call our friendly membership services team on 0870 777 0202. Please note that places are strictly limited to 50 delegates, so members are advised to book early. 3. The Data Protection Act 1998 regulates the processing of personal information relating to individuals. This includes the obtaining, holding, use or disclosure of such information. It also sets out safeguards for privacy and provides a method of enforcing people's rights. It is a very long and complex piece of legislation, with many lengthy schedules. It is written in minute detail and is enforced by the Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal.

4. In contrast, the Human Rights Act 1998, which substantially only came into place in October 2000, is only 21 pages long, has a few short schedules but massive implications. It represents one of the most significant constitutional reforms. Enforcement is a matter for individual action, with no statutory officer or watchdog responsible. Instead reliance is placed on the courts and tribunals to give effect to the European Convention on Human Rights, signed as long ago as 1950.

5. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was passed primarily to ensure that there is a framework for the police and security services to undertake investigations and for the interception of telecommunications. Other organisations that undertake surveillance through CCTV, or intercept communications, are also caught by RIPA. RIPA is another long and complex Act with lengthy schedules, and enforcement is through various Commissioners (appointed by the Home Secretary) who have wide powers.