10 everyday workplace activities that will totally change under the GDPR

Published · 4 min read

On May 25th 2018, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into effect across the EU, bringing significant changes in how organizations collect, process, manage and store data. The GDPR applies not just to organizations within the EU who process the data of individuals, but also American businesses with operations or customers in Europe. In a world where data is captured in many ways each day, the new rules on how personal information is shared and processed will become much more stringent.

With just 30 short days to go, we have compiled 10 everyday workplace activities that you will need to consider more carefully starting next month, as they’ll change under the GDPR.

1. Celebrating a colleagues birthday

An individual’s date of birth is their own personal data. Under the GDPR, it cannot be shared without consent by the individual. So it is worth checking that you have everyone’s permission to host a shared calendar of birthdays in the office.

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2. Sending office Christmas cards

If you were planning to send Christmas cards to your customers, stop right there. If that were to include someone’s home address then that is personal data so once again not permissible under the GDPR, unless you have the consent of the individuals in advance. If you do not have express consent to contact each customer, a different legitimate basis must be established for each business communication you send. So it may be for the courts to decide the business legitimacy of wishing Christmas greetings.

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3. Sharing a colleague’s baby photos

Think twice before sharing baby photos with international colleagues. All those adorable new arrivals may have to remain unseen by colleagues far away. Personal data can only be transferred internationally if the country has been designated by the EU as providing an adequate level of data protection or by complying with an approved certification mechanism such as the EU-US Privacy Shield. Of course, if the sharing of a baby photo is deemed purely personal activity, then it can be argued to fall outside of the scope of the GDPR.

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4. Catering for allergies at work events

Do you have colleagues with nut allergies? Or perhaps they have dietary requirements? Afraid these are all classed as personal data. So before you pick up the phone to a restaurant or caterer, make sure you have permission to share that information with others.

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5. Ticking the box to join a mailing list

Does your website registration form have a pre-ticked box for customers to receive marketing information from third parties? You might want to rethink that. Under the GDPR, silence, pre-ticked boxes and inactivity will no longer suffice as consent. You may also want to read through your privacy terms online, as a request by a business for consent to use personal information must be intelligible and in clear, plain language.

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6. Talking politics in the office

Political opinions are part of a special category of personal information – sensitive personal data – and organizations cannot record or process data about this type of information. So, if you were planning a company webcast about a forthcoming election, it may be best practice for a speaker to preface any comments with the phrase “I expressly consent to share this information about my political opinions.”

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7. Calling in sick

Health information is also part of that special category of personal information. So, if you have to call in sick one morning to discuss a particular medical condition, you can’t then return to your sickbed and hope that the message will be passed on unless you have consented for that information to be shared with every person who needs to be told. Alternatively, an individual can personally share that information themselves, which means that a sore throat may get a lot worse with all those calls to make to ensure everyone knows your whereabouts.

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9. Data auditing

Under the GDPR, an organization needs to have a designated person responsible for data protection matters and in some cases, a company may need to formally appoint a Data Protection Officer before carrying out any large-scale processing personal data. An individual appointed would be responsible for raising awareness of data protection regulations in an organization, training staff and managing audits of data processes.

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10. Managing a data breach

If your business suffers a data hack, you’ve got to think quickly about telling people about it. Under the GDPR, if personal data is accidentally or unlawfully lost, destroyed, altered or damaged, it needs to be reported to the supervisory authority within three days. And it’s not just the relevant authority that needs to be notified, all individuals impacted need to be informed too if it is likely to result in a high risk leading to financial loss, identity theft or fraud.

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Forwarding on a candidate’s resume for a second opinion

Not sure about a potential candidate for a role in your organization? Once again that will be personal data. Of course, you could argue that it would be reasonable to share a resume of an applicant with others in the company on a need to know basis. However, an easy way to get a second view of a resume is to anonymize it, removing the name, address, phone number and any other identifiable information. This is also becoming a growing trend among businesses as a part of an approach to remove recruitment bias.

Preparing for the GDPR can seem a little overwhelming. At Sage, we’re dedicated to preparing resources for you to learn more about the GDPR and what your business can do to prepare now.

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