As is the case with many organisations across the globe, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released responses to some frequently asked questions they have received during this time of unprecedented challenge due to Covid-19.

The FAQ’s have shed some welcome light on the position of data protection legislation during this time of national emergency – see link below.

Regulatory action

The ICO, the UK’s regulatory body for all things data protection, has confirmed that it will not take regulatory action against organisations if their data protection practices do not meet their usual standards.

The ICO recognises that all resources need to be diverted elsewhere currently and whilst they are unable to extend statutory timescales, they are advising data subjects that they may experience understandable delays. Organisations should however try to comply with data protection legislation as far as possible.

Healthcare and contact

The ICO has confirmed that data protection legislation does not prevent the Government, NHS or other health professionals from sending public health messages by phone, text or email.

Homeworking and security

Data protection doesn’t prevent homeworking but the ICO has confirmed that organisations still need to consider the usual security measures that apply in normal circumstances. Have a read of our previous blog on this topic ‘Keep calm and don’t forget the GDPR’

Notifying staff that their colleagues have the virus

The ICO advice is that organisations should probably keep their staff informed about cases in their organisation, however usual data protection rules apply. For example, the specific individual(s) should not be named and organisations should not share more information than is necessary in order to maintain health and safety and duty of care obligations.

Collection of health data from employees and visitors

The ICO has confirmed that organisations have an obligation to protect their employee’s health, but this does not extend to collecting vast amounts of health data about them. It would be reasonable to ask if they have visited a particular country recently or are experiencing symptoms along with asking visitors to consider Government advice before deciding whether the visit is necessary.

The ICO recommends referring staff to the 111 service if they are experiencing symptoms which will reduce the amount of data an organisation has to process.

As we can all appreciate, this situation is rapidly developing and changes on a near hourly basis. For up to date information or any help or assistance in relation to Covid-19 and Data Protection please contact Angela Gorton who would be happy to assist.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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