Climb­ing ca­reer lad­der hit by GDPR

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - BUSINESS -

Re­mem­ber the Mil­len­nium Bug?

It was pre­dicted to strike at the stroke of mid­night on New Year’s Day 2000 and send the world into the dig­i­tal dark ages. There were dire warn­ings global fi­nan­cial mar­kets would crash, planes would fall out of the sky and work and home com­put­ing net­works would col­lapse.

In re­al­ity none of the above hap­pened and, af­ter a col­lec­tive in­take of breath, we all went about our busi­ness as usual.

Fast for­ward to the present day and the doom-mon­gers were back on the band­wagon pre­dict­ing all sorts of car­nage and eco­nomic chaos.

This time the great threat came in the form of new data han­dling reg­u­la­tions, known as GDPR.

Firms were warned if they weren’t GDPR ready – and many tens of thou­sands were not – they faced mul­ti­mil­lion-pound fines and huge ob­sta­cles to their fu­ture op­er­a­tions.

The pic­ture of eco­nomic Ar­maged­don was painted.

But, once again, the switch over to the new GDPR-reg­u­lated world was (rel­a­tively) seam­less.

That was in the spring and by the sum­mer, I con­fess, I’d al­most for­got­ten the whole thorny sub­ject.

GDPR by then was a mun­dane re­al­ity, com­pa­nies were cop­ing and the world con­tin­ued to turn. Job done.

At least, that was the case un­til I ven­tured into a shop in Dundee last week to be con­fronted by a rather un­seemly scene.

A young wo­man hold­ing a busi­ness folder walked up to the store man­ager, an­nounced she was look­ing for work and asked to hand in her CV.

It was a spec­u­la­tive ap­proach, but the an­swer – while po­litely de­liv­ered – was well re­hearsed.

The store man­ager sim­ply told the job seeker that GDPR rules meant he was un­able to ac­cept her CV.

In fact, she was told the sim­ple act of ac­cept­ing her CV and hold­ing it on file pend­ing any job op­por­tu­ni­ties aris­ing in the store was not just against com­pany pol­icy, but il­le­gal un­der GDPR.

She was also told if she left her CV on the counter it would be im­me­di­ately shred­ded and de­stroyed.

Her glim­mer of hope for em­ploy­ment was the firm’s on­line re­cruit­ment site but, guess­ing from the look on both par­ties’ faces, they both knew it would do noth­ing to help her find work quickly and eas­ily in the city where she lived.

The young job seeker left the store crest­fallen and no fur­ther for­ward in her quest to find work.

I re­counted the story on so­cial me­dia over the week­end and there were mixed views over whether the store man­ager/ com­pany had acted cor­rectly un­der GDPR or not.

The re­ac­tion demon­strated to me that GDPR’s in­tro­duc­tion may not have been seam­less af­ter all. Some thought the firm’s re­sponse was cor­rect, oth­ers ar­gued they’d got it wrong.

But one le­gal mind said the wo­man should have been al­lowed to hand in her CV.

He summed it up thus: “It’s per­fectly per­mis­si­ble so long as the in­di­vid­ual con­sents; though strictly speak­ing, she should be given a copy of a pri­vacy state­ment ex­plain­ing who keeps the info, for how long, etc.”

He added, rather tellingly: “I can see why plenty sen­si­ble peo­ple think that’s daft.”

And an­other cor­re­spon­dent said there was a per­cep­tion GDPR was be­ing used as “a bit of an ex­cuse for (com­pa­nies) not want­ing to do things.”

Re­gard­less of the rights or wrongs of this par­tic­u­lar case, what I don’t think GDPR was ever de­signed to do was to stop some­one from get­ting into work.

But given the con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the sub­ject, sadly I sus­pect this is not an iso­lated case.

And per­haps the GDPR time bomb we feared would go off spec­tac­u­larly in the spring is con­tin­u­ing to tick away slowly un­der the radar.

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