Section 56 of the Data Protection Act came into effect on 10th March 2015 making it a criminal offence for an employer to ask a potential or existing employee to provide information from  “subject access requests” as a condition of their employment.

The practice known as enforced subject access has been widely used by employers to force prospective and current employees to submit data access requests to the police in order to check criminal records.  Information revealed under such requests does not only show current convictions, but also spent convictions, allegations, not guilty findings and other police intelligence.  The individual therefore runs the risk of providing more information to an employer than is required by law.  For example there is no legal obligation to reveal spent convictions.  If an applicant has a conviction that has become spent, the employer must treat the applicant as if the conviction has not happened.

?Employers are still permitted to make criminal record disclosure requests to the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau) where it is legitimate to do so.  This process has safeguards in place to ensure that only information relating to the role being applied for is disclosed.

?Although the practice is more commonly linked to the recruitment process, section 56 of the Date Protection Act also covers enforced subject access requests required before entering into a contract for goods, facilities or services e.g. insurance and property rental.

At Backhouse Solicitors we are specialists in all areas of employment law and can help employers with an update of recruitment procedures to ensure that they are in line with the law.  Contact us today for a FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs and find out what we can do for your business.


Tel:         01245 893400

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

21 April 2015