Key employment updates | November 2020

Three important developments for employers

SAR guidance from the ICO

The ICO have published the Right of Access detailed guidance which provides clarification for employers on how to deal with Subject Access Requests ("SAR"). There are three main areas that the guidance addresses:

The guidance confirms that it is a balancing act and the employer must determine themselves if the SAR is "clearly or obviously unreasonable". This involves assessing whether the response required is "proportionate when balanced with the burden or costs involved". Employers should therefore consider all the circumstances, including:

You must consider each request individually and not have a blanket policy as you need to ensure you have strong justifications for why you have considered a request to be manifestly unfounded or excessive, which you can clearly demonstrate to the ICO and the individual.

A reasonable fee can include obvious elements such as the cost of staff time, photocopying, printing, postage, envelopes, USB sticks etc. Employers can take into account the admin costs related to locating, assessing and communicating the information and other associated work.

An employer can potentially "stop the clock" on the 30-day time limit for compliance with a SAR if clarification is genuinely required and if the organisation processes a large amount of information about the employee.

For further information on the new guidance, please click here.

New priority service for sponsorship licence applications

From 12 November 2020, the Home Office has launched a new fast track service, allowing sponsorship licence applications to be processed quicker. There will be an additional fee of £500 which organisations can pay to have their application for a sponsor licence processed on a priority basis and, although not clear, this is likely to mean sponsors receive a decision within 5 working days from submission, rather than waiting the current 8-10 weeks.

Upcoming changes to ACAS early conciliation

From 1 December 2020 the changes to the ACAS early conciliation (EC) period take effect. The main change stemming from this will be the time period allowed for the EC period. Currently, the period is one calendar month and can be extended by a further 2 weeks if the parties are interested in engaging in the process. However, from 1 December 2020, the EC period will automatically be 6 weeks overall with no opportunity to extend.

This is unlikely to create disturbing change for parties involved in the process, the hope is that it is going to give a greater window of opportunity to allow better engagements and resolution before matters reach the Employment Tribunal. Notification obligation and the time limitations for claims (generally one month from the date of the certificate) remain unchanged.

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