HR disregards privacy and data protection

Published on 27 September 2017

In spite of privacy laws, HR gives little priority to dealing with data

Privacy and data protection are low down on the priority list of HR departments. HR professionals anticipate that this issue will move even further down the priority list in 2018. Although they are confronted with it every day, nearly one in ten HR professionals (8%) do not know that since the introduction of the duty to report data leaks, the Personal Data Protection Act has started to play a greater role in HR.

This is evident from ‘HR Trends 2017-2018’, an independent and representative survey by HR and salary service provider ADP Nederland, management consultancy firm Berenschot and Performa Uitgeverij among over 1,000 Dutch HR professionals. HR Trends is the largest annual survey among HR professionals in the Netherlands.

Infographic HR Trends 2017-2018 (Dutch)

Duty to report data leaks requires a different HR mindset

“HR departments have highly sensitive personnel information. They should be one of the first in the organisation to be aware of new privacy and data legislation and should immediately act accordingly,” says Hans van der Spek, Manager Knowledge Centre HCM at Berenschot. “It is also worrying that privacy and data protection is not expected to rise on the priority list in 2018 even though the European privacy directive will come into force on 25 May 2018.” 

HR professionals have varying opinions on the impact of the Personal Data Protection Act on their daily work. For 43%, the law has not played a bigger role, but for 49% it has. According to the latter group, the law is becoming increasingly more important, particularly in the recording of sickness absence (33%), the exchange of data with other organisations (27%) and the recruitment and selection process (20%).

“In HR departments where the Personal Data Protection Act has gained more influence, we see that this affects the entire HR spectrum and, consequently, all HR systems and processes. Adapting certain processes is a logical consequence. That requires a different mindset in HR,” says Van der Spek.

Small organisations are leading the way

Organisations with no more than 50 employees are giving more priority to privacy and data protection than larger organisations. Particularly employees in the personnel department and HR Business partners give the issue more attention. By comparison, HR managers and HR directors attach less importance to the subject. In an additional survey by Berenschot among salary administrators, more than one in five indicated they had no procedure that prescribes how to deal with data leaks. A further 19% indicated to be totally unfamiliar with such a procedure.

About the survey

HR Trends is the largest annual survey among internal and external HR professionals in the Netherlands into the content and the reward of the HR function. During the survey, not only HR officers in salaried employment were interviewed, but also directors of HR service agencies and self-employed HR advisers. Over 1000 HR officers participated in the survey. HR Trends 2017-2018 is an initiative of Performa, conducted by Berenschot and jointly facilitated by ADP. The results of the survey were presented on 12 October during HR Live. A factsheet is available for the press. This can be requested through the contact person below.

Hans van der Spek

Hans van der Spek

Senior managing consultant