Branch Secretary :

Data: GDPR and the workplace

Using new data regulations as an opportunity to negotiate better conditions


Unite Shop Stewards / Reps have an opportunity to further improve conditions for our members. This is particularly the case regarding workplace surveillance.


As of now everybody has new legal rights to access information held on them. Most of you have probably received emails from organisations you can’t remember, asking you to sign up to something you can’t recall! That’s because of these new rights.


In the workplace, every worker now has the right to;

  • Know what information the employer holds on you and how they are processing it.
  • Access any information that the employer holds on you. This includes information regarding grievances or disciplinary action, or information obtained through a monitoring process/system.


As Shop Stewards / Reps you will see the potential in these rights and not least for helping to protect activists. Think ‘blacklisting’ or less systematic discrimination: this could help you find out if the employer is planning anything. On a wider level, think performance related pay, think ‘bell curve’ – what could our members find out about unfair pay systems?




Importantly, workers also have a right to request that the employer delete personal information if it is no longer relevant - particularly useful if a disciplinary issue should be taken off someone’s record.


Of course, as always we should try and extend these rights by negotiating new or improved agreements on monitoring and surveillance. The Unite 'Work, voice, pay' team is currently working on a draft WVP guide.


You can access the official guide on GDPR here


See a TUC blog on how employers are trying to use the regulations to restrict the role of health and safety reps and how to stop them here.


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