Do individuals have the right to access their personal information?
Data protective jurisdictions tend to guarantee the right of individuals to contact an organization directly and find out whether personal data is being tracked. Access procedures and acceptable exceptions (such as business secrecy) are determined by law and may be subject to the control of data protection authorities. In the context of HR, personal data access requests can include information tracked by the company as well as data tracked by third-party solutions, such as background check vendors.
Individuals generally have the right to access and correct their personal information. To access a file, the person must make a written request to the organization holding the information. The request requirements vary slightly between the provinces, but the request must generally sufficiently demonstrate the individual’s entitlement to access the file and provide information sufficient for the organization to identify the relevant record.
There are some exceptions to accessing personal information, and these vary between the provinces. Examples include: where the information would likely reveal personal information about a third party (unless the third-party consents); information that reveals confidential commercial information, and/or information subject to a legal privilege; and, information that can reasonably be expected to threaten the safety of an individual. These exceptions have been narrowly interpreted by privacy commissioners.
HR Best Practices: When processing an access request from an employee, make sure not to disclose information connected to other employees. Processors and sub-processors should establish official procedures and contacts for employee requests.