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Human Resources Information Essay

Introduction

This report on data management; has been compiled to explain to you the reasons why HR data is important to an organisation, the types of data that should be recorded, the methods for collecting HR data and some of the UK legislation surrounding the recording, storing and accessibility of HR Data.

Types of Data That Should Be Recorded and the Reasons Why

“HR records include a wide range of data relating to individuals working in an organisation, for example, pay or absence levels, hours worked and trade union agreements. This information may be stored in a variety of media, such as computer databases or paper files.” (http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/retention-hr-records.aspx#link_0, accessed 3/3/2015) There are some statutory records that need to be recorded and stored; these statutory records must be kept because the law requires them. Statutory records will include things like the job title, address and emergency contact. Records such as pay and working hours will be stored to help management adhere to the Working Time Directive and the Minimum Wage Act 1998. Non-statutory records are kept for the internal purposes of the organisation.

These records such as attendance, punctuality, skills, strengths and weaknesses can all be used to recognise trends within the company and aggregate management or big data so that managers can act on any trends that may need sorting. For example at P.P. Plasma Ltd there is only one person in the sales department who is trained to read and understand technical drawings. This person is currently in line for a promotion within the group of companies and will no longer be part of the sales team in the next eighteen months. After aggregating the records it has been identified that the manager of the drawing office has the skills to teach the other sales team members enough to fill this skills gap.

Other reasons for storing records could be to review capability issues; induction records, training records and health and safety documentation should all allow the organisation to challenge staff on the reasons that they are not following procedures when they have had training and have signed to show understanding. These will also show any other training that may be necessary. As evidence in case of any tribunal or discrimination challenges; recruitment and selection data and termination of employment data will show the organisation has been fair and unbiased in its selection process or how they have dealt with a termination without discrimination.

Methods of Storing HR Data

Paper Method

The paper method of storing records has many more disadvantages than advantages; but for small organisations would still be a viable solution to storing HR records. “Data relating to employees is of a highly contentious and potentially litigious nature and has to be managed in accordance with compliance regulations. To do this manually is a daunting task and often liable to malpractice.” (http://www.ipcgroup.co.uk, accessed 7/3/2015) There are time limits on the information that can be kept and if you are storing this information manually then this also means that you must remove or redact information every so often. This means that data could be stored for too long.

Aggregating all of the data collected into big data can also be a challenge; most of this data will need to be entered into spreadsheets manually in order to create the management data needed. Other issues with paper records are the cost of floor space needed to store the information, the difficulty of backing up such a system; this would require the same amount of floor space on an alternate site and the security of the records; some filing cabinets may be locked with a key but if somebody were to forget to lock the cabinet then these files are open to anybody with access to the room.

Digital Method

The digital method could be a cheaper, much more secure, simple and timesaving solution to all organisations but especially the larger ones. “Given the low cost and the easy accessibility of electronic records storage, many employers are making the digital leap to “paperless” HR. These days, most records are created and maintained electronically, and some never even make their way to paper.” (http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com, accessed 7/3/2015) Security on a digital system whether it be local or cloud based would be much easier to manage, an electronic record of anybody that as accessed data can be kept automatically and permissions can be set to allow some people to see records that others do not have permission to see; for example at P.P.

Plasma Ltd the Managing Director will have access to the HR of everybody in the organisation whereas a departmental manager will only have access to the records on their own staff. Space is only an issue of how much cloud space you can afford or how big a hard drive you can have in your server if you are doing it locally. When using a cloud based service you need to ensure that the cloud service that you are using has a backup system in case of a failure or natural disaster and what the time constraints on these being implemented if needed. Whereas if you are using a local system you will need to speak with your IT department and ensure that the system is backed and removed from the site, this solution will also need a time constraint on how long the system will need to be put back into place.

Other reasons to use a digital HR system would be that the data could be aggregated into management and big data easily, whether the HR system has this built in or the data needs to be copied into a spreadsheet or database in order to create graphs, charts , tables and reports. Searching digital records could be done with a few clicks of the mouse and as long as the permissions are set up correctly this could also tell you who you need to speak to in order to gain access to the information that you are searching for.

UK Legislation regarding HR Data

There are many pieces of legislation surrounding the recording, accessing and storing of HR data but the two that I am going to explain are the Date Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Data Protection Act 1998 controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. Anybody responsible for storing and accessing HR data has to follow the data protection principles. They must make sure the information is:

used fairly and lawfully
used for limited or specifically stated purposes
used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive
accurate
kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary
handled according to people’s data protection rights
kept safe and secure
not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection

Anybody who feels that there data has not been used in accordance to these principles can make a complaint to the organisation themselves and if they are still unhappy with the response can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives the general public right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and those providing services for them. It also sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings. In order to adhere to the Freedom of Information Act; any person making a request to a public authority for information will be entitled to be informed whether that information is held. The Freedom of Information Act does not give people access to their own personal data such as their health records or credit reference file. If a member of the public wants to see information that a public authority holds about them, they should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998


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