20 Sep 2013

Employment Law Update, POPI passed by Parliament

Practice Area(s): Employment |

On 20 August 2013, the Protection of Personal Information Bill, 2009 was passed by the National Assembly and sent to the President for assent. The Bill will have significant implications for employers in terms of how they collect, store, disseminate and delete employee personal information.  Employee personal information includes information relating to race, gender, union membership, pregnancy, age, health, ID number, biometric information and even personal views or opinions.  The Bill aims to give effect to the Constitutional right to privacy and will confer certain rights on employees.  

Employees will acquire new rights:

  • The right to request what details of their personal information are held by their employer
  • The right to be informed who has had sight of such personal information
  • The right to insist that the employee's personal information is corrected or deleted
  • The right to object to the processing of the employee's personal information. Processing includes collecting, storing, disseminating and deleting, basically any treatment of information.

The Bill will establish an Information Regulator ('the Regulator') who will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance. The penalties for non-compliance include enforcement notices, fines and even imprisonment.  It has been suggested that the cost of compliance for some employers may be substantial, however, if properly enforced, the penalties may far outweigh such costs. Employers will have one year to get their house in order once the Bill is passed into law.

Kate Staude, Associate Partner

Contact: +27 31 575 7211 and kstaude@wylie.co.za