Enforced Subject Access Requests to be Outlawed


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Posted on 13 Mar 2014

Employers who force job applicants to obtain a copy of their criminal record by means of a subject access request will soon be committing a criminal offence.

Some employers require job applicants to obtain a copy of their criminal record and show it to the employer as a condition of a job offer. The Information Commissioner has always disapproved of this practice, known as enforced subject access, and the Employment Practices Code makes it clear that employers who require information about criminal records should obtain it through a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Likewise the Disclosure and Barring Service disapproves of the practice as it reveals details of all convictions, including spent convictions which an employer may not be entitled to request under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

S56 Data Protection Act 1998 provides that this practice is unlawful but that section has not been brought into force. However the Government announced recently that it plans to bring s56 into force shortly, meaning that enforced subject access will be a criminal offence. 

The announcement follows reductions to rehabilitation periods which came into force on 10 March.

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