Preparing for changes to privacy legislation

NO industry will be more affected by the changes brought about by new privacy legislation than the recruitment industry, given the role personal information has as a fundamental part of its business.

The major impact of the legislation will be in the areas of collection, use and disclosure of information when The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 comes into force on December 21.

To ensure the new rules are workable and appropriate, the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association has made submissions to, and met with, the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner throughout the gestation of the legislation and guidelines.

The RCSA has worked hard to ensure that the interests of all those involved in the on-hiring process are met, though its primary concern has been to ensure the new rules are workable for recruitment professionals.

While the industry is not satisfied with all aspects of the new legislation, the RCSA is committed to ensuring that it has in place the services and mechanisms necessary to allow members to be well-prepared for, and to comply with, the new law when it takes effect on 21 December.

The privacy guidelines emphasise that the manner in which personal information is collected is pivotal. The RCSA has prepared a collection statement intended as a “good marker” for compliance.

In addition to the collection statement, the RCSA has devoted a section of its website to the privacy legislation.

Some other tips for compliance that may help employers and recruitment agencies include the following.

p Organisations could consider adding a clause to employment contracts that states that the employee acknowledges that he/she has read, understood and agrees to abide by the terms of the organisation’s privacy policy.

p Compliance involves more than “buying” or publishing of a policy. It is an issue affecting organisational culture, which means it requires training, education, reinforcement and monitoring.

p As with policies on email and Internet use, it may be easier to specify in a policy what is not allowed, rather than what is. More exclusions can be added later if necessary. Exclusion should be specifically stated, rather than in generic terms, such as “use only for work-related activities”.

p Caution is needed when organisations are involved in partner or joint venture arrangements, for example when there are portals linking each other’s websites.

The RCSA is working provide a support network for members and non members in the lead up to, and after the introduction of, the new legislation. That includes presentations from a legal reprsentative on November 19.

Perth: Breakfast 7.30am at the Sheraton Hotel. For information please call Ron Adams on 9226 5840.

Bunbury: 5.30pm – 7.30pm at Podium Level of Bunbury Tower, please call Lauren Simpson on 9791 2666.

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