Retention of an employee’s unsatisfactory employment records by an employer over seven years
The complainant was an estate agent. He left his job when his employer, a property agency company (the Company), was dissatisfied with his performance. Since then, the Company had retained records of the complainant’s unsatisfactory performance. When the complainant rejoined the Company ten years later, he learnt from his colleagues that the Company had once intended not to employ him again due to his poor performance in the past. The complainant left the Company again and complained to the PCPD against the Company for retaining his personal data related to his first-time employment for too long. He also alleged that the Company revealed to his colleagues its intention of not employing him again.
The Company explained to the PCPD that it was common for estate agents to rejoin their companies after departure. It therefore permanently retained former employees’ personal data, including job performance records, for consideration of employment in future.
DPP2(2) stipulates that all practical steps must be taken to ensure that personal data is not kept longer than is necessary for the fulfillment of the purpose (including any directly related purpose) for which the data is or is to be used. As for continued retention of personal data of former employees, paragraph 4.2.3 of the Code of Practice on Human Resource Management (the Code) issued by the PCPD stipulates that the employer should not retain such data for a period longer than seven years from the date the former employee ceases employment with the employer unless there is a subsisting reason that obliges the employer to retain the data for a longer period or the former employee has given prescribed consent for the data to be retained beyond seven years.
After the PCPD’s intervention, the Company revised its retention policy, which now states that the personal data of former employees should generally not be retained for more than seven years. In case the Company needs to handle a court case related to an ex-employee or fulfill its obligations under an employment contract, the personal data concerned would be retained until the purposes are achieved.
During the investigation, the Company destroyed the complainant’s employment record (including the performance records) collected in his employment a decade ago. As for the allegation against the Company for disclosure of its decision of blacklisting the complainant, it was found unsubstantiated.
(Uploaded in March 2019)