It’s been three years since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – but complying with this crucial law is still just as important as back in 2018.
It goes without saying that if you’re working in payroll and HR, you’re constantly handling sensitive data – whether it’s basic personal details like name and date of birth, or more complex information such as National Insurance numbers and bank details.
This everyday exposure to personal information means payroll and HR professionals must always be on top of their game when it comes to complying with GDPR. With failure to comply comes heavy fines, reputational damage, and broken employee trust.
With that in mind, here are five top tips to keep your payroll and HR operations compliant with GDPR.
1. Understand the data you should protect
Under GDPR, personal data is defined as ‘Any information relating to a living, identified, or identifiable natural person’. Put simply, this means any kind of information from which a person (a data subject) can be identified.
This information includes the basic data, such as name, address, bank details, email, and telephone number, but also includes sensitive personal data such as racial and ethnic status, sexual or gender orientation, and political views.
However, as the official definition includes the words ‘any information’, we’d recommend interpreting the term ‘personal data’ as broadly as possible to reduce the risk of a regulation breach.
That said, it’s important to remember that personal data should only be gathered if its relevant to your stated purpose. In this case, information required to run payroll and HR for the individual. You must also ensure that you never hold more data than you need for that purpose.
2. Ensure your software is GDPR compliant and can record processing activities
The GDPR standard not only requires you to understand and assess all data processed, but also keep a Record of Processing Activities (ROPA). Good payroll and HR software should support you in complying with all aspects of GDPR, including record keeping.
To be sure that your current software can help you, or if you’re on the journey of looking for a new solution, keep an eye out for security-related accreditations such as ISO27001 (international standard for information security), Cyber Essentials (protection against cyber-attacks), and AES256 (the advanced encryption standard).
Look for providers who are open to having external audits done and pay close attention to the little details. Does the provider use a well-known, mature cloud platform such as Azure? Do they provide an ‘Assurance Pack’ on request to answer the majority of your security questions upfront? This can give a good indication that the software provider takes data protection very seriously and operates security best practice.
Plus, using software that utilises automation and integrates payroll and HR information eliminates the need for multiple systems and spreadsheets that can carry a much higher risk of data leaks.
3. Update your software regularly
Using GDPR compliant software is crucial, but once implemented, it shouldn’t be forgotten about. Ensuring your payroll and HR solution is constantly running on the very latest version helps to minimise the risk of security breaches through potential gaps in data storage. This is easier to achieve when using cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS)models, as system updates are typically administered automatically.
What’s more, if an outdated version of the system is being used, it’s more likely that it won’t meet the newest data safety standards. This again leaves you open to serious security and data breaches with costly consequences.
4. Switch to online employee self-service
Physical paperwork such as paper payslips and P60s can quite easily fall into the hands of someone other than the individual intended. This is a particular risk as we begin to return to work in shared office spaces.
Instead, we’d recommend adopting an online employee self-service platform. With a secure, two-factor authentication login and some available to download as an intuitive mobile app, employees can safely view their pay information without the need to print hard copies.
Self-service also enables employees to easily access all the personal data that payroll and HR hold about them. This simple access supports one of the major principles of the regulation – giving employees full visibility of their data.
5. Hand the responsibility to an expert service provider
If complying with GDPR is a challenge for your operation, or if you just want to ensure peace of mind, it may be worth considering working with a managed service provider.
Providers will take on the responsibility of processing your payroll and/or HR, including the handling of all data in line with GDPR.
Top managed service providers are experts in their field, undertaking regular training in data protection – meaning you can put your trust in them to safely deal with your employees’ personal information while accurately executing your end-to-end payroll and HR processes.
Are your payroll and HR operations GDPR compliant?
Ultimately, your organisation must be able to confidently say that the personal information held for every single employee is collected, handled, and stored in line with GDPR.
If it can’t, the risk of a possible data breach – often resulting in costly and reputation damaging consequences – is significantly higher. This means it’s crucial that business leaders prioritise data protection, review their current approach, and consider upgrading or switching their payroll and HR solution to aid them in boosting compliance.