herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Warning over requests for garda vetting

Employers

Companies are being warned that they cannot ask potential employees to seek garda clearance and expect them to hand over the information.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has this month written to 40 organisations across a range of sectors to assess the level of compliance with legislation on the matter.

There are certain jobs whereby individuals must be vetted for employment purposes - for instance, it is mandatory under childcare regulations, and this remains unchanged.

However, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner said is concerned about "vetting through the back door" in the case of organisations who would not legitimately qualify to conduct a vetting check.

Under Section Four of the Data Protection Acts, an individual can obtain a copy of any information relating to them held by an entity or organisation, including the gardai, by making an access request.

"However, that is for your own use, and you shouldn't be forced by any third party, particularly an employer, to go down that road," a source said.

An employer is not allowed to force anyone to make an access request under the Data Protection Acts, to effectively get a garda report and to then pass over the information.

Applications

Last year, there were 320,000 vetting applications processed by the Garda Central Vetting Unit.

Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commissioner said that it is a clear abuse of the right of access for an employer to force a prospective employee to make an access request under Section Four of the Data Protection Acts and to disclose the entire result.

"I intend to vigorously pursue and prosecute any abuse detected in this area," she added.

An advisory letter on the issue has been issued to 40 organisations, including banks and retailers, and they are being asked questions in relation to what personal information on prospective employees they require.

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