Navigating Employee Data Privacy Laws In 2021 | GDPR & CCPA

Navigating Employee Data Privacy Laws In 2021 | GDPR & CCPA

Compliance regulation is a tangled web for HR departments. Unraveling and navigating employee data privacy laws and applying them to your employee data practices now can help set your department up for future compliance.

Compliance with privacy regulation when it comes to employee data is no easy task. Laws vary by jurisdiction and are rapidly expanding. How they apply to employee data also differs with each law. Keeping track of the various laws and how they apply to employers can be a chore, especially if your company employs staff in more than one state, country or region. To stay compliant with upcoming laws, HR departments need to create robust employee data policies in order to have success navigating employee data privacy laws. 

It’s safe to expect new laws will look similar to GDPR and CCPA. How employee data should be handled in accordance with those laws can be easily summarized: 

  • Ask for consent or notify employees of data collection
  • Collect employee data responsibly and only when necessary
  • Employers are accountable for storing, transferring and processing data compliantly
  • If adhering to GDPR, complete Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA)

Applying these principles to employee data ensures continued compliance, but can also have added benefits for employee morale and workflow. Let’s dive deeper…

Learn How to Set Up Teramind with Privacy in Mind

Consent & Notification Establishes Data Trust Amongst Staff

Notifying employees of data collection is a good start, but getting consent sets up an environment of data trust.

Your organization may be subject to the consent or notification clause depending on where it’s conducting business. If your organization operates under GDPR, expressed consent is usually mandatory. But that isn’t the case in many US states (except in certain cases.) The application of this privacy pillar in upcoming legislation is still up in the air. This puts HR departments in a precarious position.

Even so, you can still be prepared by asking for consent rather than simply notifying employees of data collection. The initial work to put such a policy in place may require heavy lifting but the work pays off in more ways than one. Your company stays compliant regardless of the region it’s operating in. You’ll also build an environment of trust with employees by letting them know what collection practices the organization employs. 

Access Allowances Promote Employee Productivity

Employee data has a lot useful information; allowing access to that information can help employees succeed in their roles.

Access to collected data is a key element of existing and future privacy legislation. Even regions with paired back privacy regulation include a right to access. For HR professionals, allowing access to collected employee data has an added benefit. Employee data, like productivity reports from monitoring software or assessment reviews, consists of a lot of information that can be helpful to their workflow. Letting employees see their metrics helps them focus their efforts.

Granting employee access to their data isn’t just a regulation requirement, it’s a smart move. While the goal is to maintain compliant practices, allowing access to data like performance reports promotes more efficient and improved productivity. 

Transparency Compliance Maintains the Safety of Employee Data

Employees’ data safety is just as important as their physical safety and can be bolstered through transparency.

For years, HR professionals have been charged with meeting OSHA posting requirements; notifying employees of your company’s data collection practices shouldn’t be any different.

Transparency is the bedrock of privacy regulation. Alerting employees of how their data is being used is a necessary and respectable practice.

More is more in the case of data transparency. How OSHA postings promote physical safety in the workplace, transparency promotes data security. How so? Data use notices serve as a reminder that your organization is always handling data, specifically theirs. This helps to keep your staff privacy-minded which lowers the risk of user-created data breaches.

Purpose Limitation Maximizes Compliance & Minimizes Employee Data

Collecting employee data can be useful but taking too much can lead to noncompliant practices.

Purpose limitation regulations protect against overcollection and is a vital part of navigating employee data privacy laws. A simple rule of thumb is to ask what data is necessary and relevant to your purpose and goals. Purpose limitation in regards to employee data is complex. Almost all HR employee data like time cards, requests, health notices and personal identifying information is necessary and relevant.

Putting that aside, HR managers must analyze what other employee data is truly purposeful and work to clear out the rest. Reducing employee data can be as simple as deleting applicable former employee files or limiting productivity software data. Performing a spring cleaning of employee data now is a preemptive measure that sets up compliancy with any forthcoming purpose limitation rules.

Accountability Compliant Practices Secure Employee Data

Performing audits helps maintain employee data security.

Because of the information employers and their HR departments collect, Data Protection Impact Assessments must be performed for companies falling under the GDPR jurisdiction. These assessments analyze a company’s data practices to ensure maximum security and help minimize risk. HR handles the most sensitive and privileged employee data. If these assessments aren’t required in your region, they’re still worth considering.

But they’re a big undertaking for HR alone or even smaller businesses to perform electively. If this is the case, consider performing a simpler audit of your employee data handling systems.  This will help identify gaps in your privacy practices and allow IT to assess employee data security risks. 


Investing in privacy is always a good idea for business. But HR has a tall marching order when it comes to anticipating and maintaining privacy regulations while navigating employee data privacy laws. Basing your employee data management around GDPR and CCPA is a good start, but you can future-proof your employee privacy practices against upcoming regulation by adhering to the strictest protections.  By erring on the side of caution, compliant standards can be kept regardless of what comes down the pipeline. There’s still some good news in all this. Planning a reinforced privacy forward employee data privacy has added advantages that benefit the organization overall.

Build A Culture With Purpose With Teramind

HR leaders know that the work they do adds strategic value but with so much on their plates, productivity, on-the-job learning and employee retention can get pushed aside. Take steps to engage your workforce and curate a culture that thrives. With Teramind, you can capture all types of user activity and behavior data that can be leveraged to promote a productive culture and more.

But don’t just take our word for it…

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