AM Online

Guest opinion: The spy who hired and fired me

Author: Philip Harmer from Stormcatcher

Much has been written about British Intelligence Agencies “spying” on us and the proposed “Snooping Charter” which affirms that there may be circumstances where the rights to privacy of the individual are sacrificed for national security and the protection of the majority.

This is the basis of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, enacted coincidentally in the same year as the Data Protection Act which has wide application for employers.

However, obscured by the James Bond headlines of GCHQ, some employers are mirroring a similar and allegedly indiscriminate approach using the exceptions for “obtaining information” and making it the rule.

There are jobs where inherent significant risks require mitigating and justifying an employer vetting a prospective employee.  

This may involve a disclosure of criminal convictions, a CRB check (now called a DBS), a credit or financial background check.

Understandably one might strain to see what “significant risks” there maybe in the retail motor industry which could possibly justify the standardising of such an approach or require  continued “monitoring” during employment.

Nevertheless and seemingly in the quest to change the profile of motor trade employees and attract the “right people” these practises have emerged with increasing regularity within large organisations, turning interviews into interrogations.

As a consequence, potential employees have been asked to disclose spent convictions, otherwise exempt by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and compelled to make subject access requests, recently criminalised by the new provision of the Data Protection Act.

Rather than clearly telling potential employees why the information is needed and how long it will be held, unscrupulous employers are using it as a pre-requisite for hiring and/or a subversive tactic for firing. 

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