ACTU Executive has passed a resolution aimed at addressing the significant shortfalls in regulation and safeguards regarding the use and protection of employee data by employers.

The resolution outlines key principles for the use of working people’s data by their employers;

  • Employers should be required to protect the data of their employees.
  • Workers should have a right to access data collected about them, including the right to have that data rectified, blocked or erased.
  • Workers and their unions must be consulted and agreement reached before the introduction of new systems which enable surveillance or monitoring of workers.
  • Data collected should be minimised to only what is absolutely necessary.
  • Policies and processes for data collection should be transparent and available to workers and their unions.
  • Biometric and GPS or location data should only be collected where there is no other viable option.
  • These rights should be implemented and enforceable via collective bargaining.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil: 

“Whenever your data is collected you should retain access, control and visibility of that data, and anyone collecting it should be held accountable for its security. This is the standard that we should be able to expect in every sphere of life and it should be no different in the workplace.

“We have seen in recent weeks that some of our biggest and most tech-centric employers are failing to keep employee and customer data secure. We need stronger regulation to ensure that working people who entrust their data to an employer can be certain that their employer is doing everything possible to keep it safe.

“The creep of data collection has continued unquestioned for years. Employers are now commonly collecting extremely sensitive data with no restrictions on its use or storage, and no recourse for workers who may wish to access, amend or erase it.

“As workplaces and the way we work continues to change we have to make sure that our workplace laws are keeping up. Data protection is critical to ensuring that working people are safe at work.

“The limited scope for ensuring data security through collective bargaining is one of the many reasons our current system is not fit for purpose and needs to be modernised.”