What Rights Do Employees Have If An Employer Breaches Their Data Privacy?
In this guide, we will explain what could justify employee data breach claims against the DWP. Has a DWP employee data breach affected you? Then continue reading to learn more about personal data breaches.
What is the DWP? The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is the UK’s largest public service department. It is responsible for pensions, welfare and child maintenance policy. The DWP administers pensions and benefits to over 20 million claimants in the UK. The DWP is an organisation that operates in the UK. Therefore it has to follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was enacted into UK law through the Data Protection Act 2018.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation, organisations have a duty of care towards any personal data they collect from the public. Therefore, if an employee information data breach occurs, the DWP could be liable for any psychological or financial harm caused. The Information Commissioner’s Office may fine the Department for Work and Pensions. What’s more, if the DWP breaches an employee’s personal data privacy and they suffer mentally or financially, the employee could claim compensation from them.
What Can I Do If My Personal Data Was Breached?
We have provided you with advice about claiming compensation for a personal data breach in this guide. So continue reading to learn more about what evidence could justify employee data breach claims against the DWP. Or you could contact us for further information.
Alternatively, click the banner below to get in touch with Legal Expert if you would like to see if you could begin a claim.
Select A Section
- What Is Data Protection Law?
- Does The GDPR Protect The Department Of Work And Pensions Employees?
- The GDPR’s 7 Principles of Data Protection
- What Data Is Protected Under The GDPR?
- How Can An Employer Breach Data Protection Law?
- How Could The DWP Breach Employees’ Data Privacy?
- Reasons Why An Employee Could Claim Against The DWP
- Claims For The Sharing Of Employees’ Personal Information Without Consent
- What Is The Role Of The ICO?
- The ICO’s Employer Practice Guide
- Who Can I Report My Employer To If They Breach My Data?
- Calculating Compensation Payouts For Data Protection Breaches
- Employee Data Breach Claims Against The DWP No Win No Fee Agreement
- More Data Breach Resources
- FAQs On Government Employee Data Privacy
The General Data Protection Regulation (often abbreviated to GDPR) is EU data protection legislation. The Data Protection Act 2018 enacts the GDPR into United Kingdom law. The purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation is to uphold people’s data privacy and data security. Subsequently, this legislation applies to every business and organisation in the UK that processes personal information.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation, organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions should do the following:
- Have a duty of care towards the data it collects. This means that they are responsible for protecting it.
- Have systems to protect personal data. For example, training staff on data protection techniques and having an adequate cybersecurity system in place.
The General Data Protection Regulation refers to “data subjects”. A data subject is an individual whose personal data is collected by an organisation. Under the GDPR, organisations that process data subjects’ personal information should protect that data.
How Should The DWP Protect Data Subjects?
Under the GDPR, the Department for Work and Pensions could do the following:
- Only collect personal data if the data subject has permitted them to do so.
- Explain why they will use the personal data. Moreover, they must not use the data for another purpose.
- Keep the data that it has collected up to date where reasonably possible.
- Not share personal information without consent. However, they could share the data without your consent if there’s a lawful exception.
What’s more, individuals are permitted rights under the GDPR. This includes the right to access their personal data and the right to restrict data processing under certain circumstances.
To clarify, employers need to protect their employees’ personal data if they collect or process it. Therefore, if a DWP staff data breach takes place and employees have evidence that they suffered mentally or financially, they may have the right to claim compensation. To learn more about claiming data breach compensation, please feel free to contact our support service.
There are seven core principles of the General Data Protection Regulation. Let’s look at what these are, below.
- Lawfulness, fairness and transparency: This means that organisations should process data in a lawful manner. What’s more, organisations should inform data subjects of how they will use their data.
- Purpose limitation: This means that personal data should only be processed for the reason stated. The organisation should not process personal data for any other reason.
- Data minimisation: This means that organisations should not collect more personal data than they need to.
- Accuracy: This means that organisations keep their database accurate and up to date if it contains personal information. For example, an employee’s address should be updated on the database, if they inform the employer that they have moved house and provide them with the address.
- Storage limitation: This means that organisations should not keep personal data longer than necessary. Organisations should delete personal data when they no longer need it.
- Integrity and confidentiality (security): This means that organisations should use security and anonymisation systems (for example) to protect the personal data they have collected.
- Accountability: When asked, an organisation’s data controllers should be able to provide evidence that they have complied with the GDPR. If they haven’t, they should be accountable for this.
This guide aims to help those considering an employee data breach claims against the DWP. However, if you have unanswered questions, get in touch.
Personal data is information that distinguishes an individual. It is normal for organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions to collect, process and store employee personal data.
Here are some examples of employee personal data that an employer may collect:
- Email address
- Home address
- Telephone number
- Banking information
- Date of birth
- Race or ethnic group
- Religion or lack thereof
- Marital status
- Whether or not the employee has a disability or any notable health conditions
In addition, the Department of Work and Pensions will collect job specific personal data from their employees. For example, the organisation may collect data about an employee’s job role, job location, information about performance reviews and salary information.
How do organisations store personal data?
The organisation may store the data in a filing system or electronically. Or the data may be part of a record that only authorised persons can access. No matter how it’s stored, if it is personal data, the employer has a responsibility to secure it from unauthorised persons.
What is a data breach by an employer? A data breach is caused by a security breach that leads to personal data being lost, destroyed, accessed, changed or disclosed without authorisation or a lawful basis. A staff data breach can happen because of human error, or deliberately (for example, because an organisation was attacked by hackers).
An employee data breach could include the following incidents:
- An unauthorised person gains access to personal data.
- Personal data is lost, stolen or destroyed.
- Employee personal data is altered or encrypted.
- There is a personal data leak or data exposure incident.
As we have just mentioned, employee data breaches of the GDPR can happen because of errors that were made by employees. For example, the employer could send a letter to an employee. However, they may accidentally send the letter to the wrong address and an unauthorised recipient may access it. Therefore the organisation would be sharing personal information without consent or a lawful basis. These mistakes could be considered a privacy violation and a data protection breach.
On the other hand, a data breach can also happen if cybercriminals intentionally cause a data breach. For instance, the employer may be the target of a cyber-attack. This means that cybercriminals may attack the organisation using malware (malicious software). After that, the criminals may gain unlawful access to the organisation’s database and use the stolen data for malicious or illegal purposes.
Have you been affected mentally or financially by a DWP data breach? Contact us today about making data breach claims to find out more.
Now let’s look at an example of a DWP data protection breach, which took place in recent years. This DWP data breach involved the breach of the DWP claimant’s personal data.
In March and June 2018 the DWP published files online, which included information about routine payments made to outsourcing company Capita. Unfortunately, the files contained National Insurance Numbers (NI numbers) belonging to approximately 6,000 people. These individuals claimed Personal Independence Payments (PIP) through the DWP. PIP is a type of disability benefit. Unfortunately, the files remained online for over two years.
In November 2020 the privacy rights group Big Brother Watch discovered the DWP breach of the Data Protection Act. The organisation alerted the DWP and the Mirror newspaper. Consequently, the files were removed. The Department for Work and Pensions apologised for the data breach.
Have you been affected by a government department data breach, such as the one above? Or have you been impacted mentally or financially by a DWP staff data breach? If you can prove you have evidence of a valid claim, then you may be eligible to claim GDPR data breach compensation. Use the banner throughout the guide to contact Legal Expert.
Source URL: www.itpro.co.uk/security/data-breaches/357724/dwp-data-breach-exposed-6000-ni-numbers
You may be eligible to make employee data breach claims under the following circumstances:
- You are an employee or former employee of the DWP and they hold your personal data. Therefore the organisation has a duty of care towards your personal data.
- An employee information data breach took place, which compromised your personal data.
- So consequently, your personal data privacy was breached. As a result, you experienced emotional distress, financial losses or both.
Sometimes a data breach lawyer can handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that there is a lesser financial risk for you when using the services of a solicitor to claim.
To begin your employee data breach claim, contact Legal Expert today using the banner shown throughout this article. If the data breach violated your human rights, the time limit is reduced to one year. Therefore, we recommend contacting Legal Expert as soon as possible to see if you can begin the data breach claims process right away.
Normally, sharing personal information without consent is not allowed under the General Data Protection Regulation. However, there is a lawful basis for employers to share personal data without consent in certain circumstances. These are as follows:
- Vital interests: This is when an employer believes an employee’s life is at risk. For example, if an employee needs emergency medical treatment and an employer shares private medical information with paramedics or doctors.
- Legal obligation: This is when an employer shares an employee’s personal data because they are required to by law. For example, an employer shares an employee’s salary information with HMRC.
- Contract: They may use it to fulfil a contract with you.
- Public task: If sharing your data is in the public’s interest, they could do so.
- Legitimate interests: They may share your data for business interests.
You can claim compensation from your employer if they have shared your personal data without consent or without a lawful reason to do so and it’s caused you psychological harm or financial loss.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a public body in the United Kingdom. Their role is to protect the data privacy rights of the public. They do so by enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation and UK legislation such as the Data Protection Act 2018.
The ICO has the power to investigate companies and organisations that commit employee data breaches under the GDPR. Furthermore, the Information Commissioner’s Office can administer fines to organisations that have committed data breaches.
The ICO has an employment practices code to help employers understand their role in data protection. Employers are legally required to protect personal data that belongs to their employees if they collect or process it. The term “employees” includes individuals that meet the following criteria:
- Full-time employees
- Part-time employees
- Casual workers, agency workers and contract workers
- Interns and voluntary workers
- People who have applied for jobs, whether successful or not
What should you do if you believe that your employer has breached your personal data privacy? Firstly, we recommend that you report the data breach to your employer. Escalate the complaint, if you are not happy with the response you receive.
You can report the data protection breach to the ICO if you are not satisfied with the way your employer has dealt with the matter. However, you would have to do so within three months of your employer’s final response. The ICO may investigate the DWP for the GDPR data breach.
Do you wish to make employee data breach claims against the DWP? If a claimant has a valid claim and it’s successful, they could receive compensation. To see how mental suffering is valued, use the compensation table below.
The compensation table only includes non-material damages compensation. Non-material damages compensate you for psychological harm caused by the data breach.
The table does not include material damages, which compensate you for any financial loss the data breach causes.
|Type of psychological injury||Seriousness||Compensation range||About the injury|
|Psychiatric Injury||Severe||£51,460 to £108,620||The claimant may experience marked issues with the following factors:
1) Their ability to cope with things such as education, work or other parts of their life.
2) The impact the injury has had on their relationships.
3) The prognosis.
|Psychiatric Injury||Moderately Severe||£17,900 to £51,460||The claimant will experience significant problems with reference to the factors highlighted above. However, this person should have a better prognosis.|
|Psychiatric Injury||Moderate||£5,500 to £17,900||Whilst the claimant will experience problems with these factors, they should have a better prognosis than the categories above.|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder||Severe||£56,180 to £94,470||This person may experience permanent systems of PTSD. Symptoms could include night terrors, suicidal ideation and hyper-arousal.
PTSD could impact all areas of the claimants life.
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder||Moderately Severe||£21,730 to £56,180||This person could be affected in a similar way to those above. They should expect a better prognosis with professional care.|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder||Less Severe||Up to £7,680||The person would have had practically a full recovery within two years.|
This table is based on the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG is a publication solicitors may use to help them when valuing conditions.
Of course, the amount of compensation you could receive may vary. A data breach solicitor can accurately estimate how much compensation you could claim. Get in touch if you’d like a more accurate estimate.
If you use the services of a data breach lawyer, you may want them to handle your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. No Win No Fee is a way of funding your solicitor for an employer data breach with less financial risk.
This is because, instead of paying a solicitor’s fee before the solicitor starts work on your claim, you will pay a success fee at the end of your claim. However, your solicitor will have to meet certain conditions before they can charge you a success fee.
Why Do Some People Prefer To Make A No Win No Fee Claim?
- It is more affordable because there is no upfront solicitor’s fee to pay. Instead, your lawyer will deduct your success fee from your compensation payout.
- The success fee is legally capped.
- The financial risk is lower because you won’t have to pay the solicitor’s fee unless you win.
To ask us a question about claiming compensation for a DWP staff data breach, please contact us. You can contact us to ask us a question or use the live chat on your screen. On the other hand, if you have evidence of a valid claim, contact Legal Expert.
More Data Breach Resources
Here is some more information on employer data breaches.
Guidance from the ICO about raising concerns over an employer data breach.
Information from the ICO on how to be data-aware.
Dealing With Workplace Problems – Some helpful guidance from Acas on trying to resolve workplace issues.
Who else should I report my data breach to?
If you believe you have been affected by a government department data breach, you may wish to raise a formal complaint with them. If they fail to deal with the data breach correctly, you can report the organisation to the ICO.
Does the ICO have to have fined the DWP for me to claim?
No, the ICO does not have to fine the Department for Work and Pensions, for you to make a data breach claim.
How long do I have to claim?
There is a data breach claims time limit of six years from the date you obtained knowledge of the breach. Alternatively, if the data breach involved a violation of human rights, you would have one year.
How long do claims take?
Sometimes the data breach claims process only takes a few months. Compensation claims that involve a complex data breach case can take longer to settle.
Thank you for reading our guide exploring the justifications behind potential employee data breach claims against the DWP.
Guide by CHE
Edited by VIC