Data Protection in Employment: A Focus on the UK Landscape

We explore below the key aspects of data protection in the context of employment in the UK, with a particular focus on workplace monitoring and remote work.

Data Protection in Employment Relationships

One of the most crucial areas of data protection compliance for all companies is the management of employee data.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK has issued an employment practices code that highlights essential data protection practices employers should adopt. The Code includes rules to adhere to during the recruitment and selection processes, the performance of the employment contract, and disciplinary actions and dismissal, among other topics.

In essence, the ICO's Employment Practices Code serves as a cornerstone in maintaining trust and confidentiality in the workspace.

Monitoring in the workplace

Monitoring, a critical aspect of today's workplaces, is addressed extensively. Some of the general recommendations proposed by the ICO are:

  • Employers must be transparent about the existence and purpose of monitoring. Any specific monitoring arrangement must be justified by the real benefits it will deliver.
  • Covert monitoring should be exceptional and well justified.
  • The department within the organization with the authority to introduce monitoring arrangements should be aware of the employer's responsibilities under the UK GDPR and the Employment Practices Code.
  • Involve as few staff as possible in the monitoring activities.
  • Ensure that workers who perform the monitoring are properly trained on data protection obligations.
  • Carry out impact assessments to assess whether the monitoring is proportional to the intrusion on the employee's rights.

The ICO also outlines norms for specific types of monitoring, such as access to electronic communications, video and audio monitoring, covert monitoring, and in-vehicle monitoring. These should be analyzed and studied in each specific case.

Data Protection in Remote Work

As remote work becomes increasingly commonplace, it is important to understand its implications for data protection. Some aspects to keep in mind are:

  • Clear Policies and Procedures:
    Ensure that your staff is provided with clear guidelines on remote work policies.
  • Update and Secure Remote Access Solutions:
    Use the latest versions of your remote access solutions. Encourage employees to use complex and unique passwords, and where possible, enable multi-factor authentication.
  • Cloud Storage Management:
    Use compliant corporate cloud storage solutions and ensure they are not set to public. Configure the necessary permissions, and avoid using default root or administrative accounts for day-to-day activities.
  • Remote Desktop Security:
    Implement account lockouts for a certain number of failed log-ins. Create generic usernames for privileged accounts and disable built-in administrator accounts.
  • Securing Remote Applications:
    Make sure that your remote application solutions do not allow access to administrative tools like PowerShell or Command Prompt. Also, ensure plain text usernames and passwords are not included in any files, folders, or scripts.
  • Email Security:
    As remote work may lead to increased email communication, ensure that you have reviewed and implemented guidance on defending against phishing attacks. Advise staff to use corporate email solutions rather than personal email accounts.

Our Role – Ensuring your compliance with data protection regulations 

The importance of effectively handling employment data cannot be overstated. Data processing operations related to employees' data are among the most numerous and frequent tasks performed by organizations. 
FIRST PRIVACY specializes in assisting companies in complying with data protection regulations worldwide. We offer customized solutions and guidance to ensure that your business can operate smoothly and in accordance with UK data protection laws.

Protecting employee data is not just a legal requirement but a key aspect in fostering trust and integrity in your business operations. It is imperative to keep informed of best practices and regulations, especially when engaging in remote work.
Partnering with FIRST PRIVACY will provide you with the expertise and support needed to confidently navigate these waters.

Fábio Cavalcante

Fábio Cavalcante, LL.M.

Senior Privacy Counsel


Phone: +49 421 69 66 32-886