Feeds

Sex, lies and Data Protection Act leave SMEs in peril

Show Me the Money

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

Firms trying to protect themselves against claims for sex discrimination by completing equal pay questionnaires submitted by employees risk falling foul of the Data Protection Act, legal experts have warned.

UK commercial law practice Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) said the danger - which is most acute for small companies - centres on the fact that employees who suspect that they may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act 1970 are now allowed to submit a questionnaire to their employer requesting information on the pay of a comparable colleague, either by name or by job title.

However, any such information on the pay of co-workers constitutes confidential personal data; under the Data Protection Act this should only be disclosed to a third party in accordance with strict guidelines, RPC says.

Geraldine Elliott, head of employment at RPC, said: "There is no legal obligation on the employer to respond fully, or at all, to an equal pay questionnaire. For companies with equal and fair pay policies who have nothing to hide, not disclosing the pay information could pose two problems.

"If they don't disclose, it will be harder to prevent a case going unnecessarily to an employment tribunal in the first place. Then, once a claim is made, the tribunal can draw its own inferences from a company's failure to provide adequate answers to the questionnaire."

According to RPC, obtaining the written permission of an employee is one way an firm can disclose information concerning an individual's pay. However, because remuneration is often a contentious issue, and the information could subsequently be disclosed in tribunal proceedings, consent is likely to be withheld.

RPC advises that companies may be able to avoid breaching the Act by maintaining the anonymity of a comparable employee, for example, by providing general information such as details of how the pay scheme operates or how job grading systems work, rather than data on a specific individual.

However, Elliott warned: "In smaller businesses, where there are fewer comparable colleagues, anonymity is likely to be much more difficult to ensure.

"If the employer is unable to disclose confidential information because they can't get consent, they should say so when responding to the questionnaire or an employment tribunal is far more likely to come to a negative conclusion." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.