• Fifth of Brits would ask employers to delete personal details under GDPR

  • 14 Jul 2017
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Businesses urged to ‘seriously think about overhauling’ data processes – or risk falling foul of the regulations

A fifth (21 per cent) of people plan to use their rights under the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ask their employer or ex-employers to delete their information, research has revealed.

The poll of 2,000 consumers by data analytics company SAS also found that a similar proportion of people (22 per cent) intend to use the new laws to access the data their employer holds on them, and 21 per cent would seek out human intervention in favour of automated process for performance reviews. 

The GDPR, which is due to come into force in May 2018, will enhance data protection laws and create a range of new responsibilities for those who hold personal data. Penalties for breaches could be up to 4 per cent of organisations’ annual turnover or 20m, whichever is greater.

Other studies have suggested that the new rules are proving problematic for employers, with research from Gartner warning that at least half (50 per cent) of companies will not be fully compliant with the regulations by the end of 2018. 

Charles Senabulya, vice president and country manager for SAS UK & Ireland, told People Management that employers cannot “rest on their laurels” if they want to be compliant with GDPR regulations by the time they come into force, and they should “start seriously thinking about overhauling and unifying their data governance processes”.

“The GDPR will still challenge employers and they will still need to comply with a multitude of data requests from employees,” he said. “For many employers, old legacy IT and data systems may not be up to the task – this makes it all the more important to ensure that company data is kept clean and easily accessible once these requests start to come in.” 

However, Peter Gooch, cyber risk partner at Deloitte, noted that businesses still had some wiggle room in their ability to hold on to data. “If employers have a legitimate and legal reason that they have to keep the data then they may not have to delete it,” he said. “Likewise, employers shouldn’t be keeping personal data of ex-employees beyond defined retention periods, and this doesn’t change under the GDPR. What does change is the potential impact on organisations for not complying, as well as the need for them to proactively demonstrate compliance.”

In a wider context, SAS also discovered that close to half (48 per cent) of those surveyed intend to use rights under the GDPR in some form or another, with 39 per cent planning to ask for social media companies to remove their data and 33 per cent thinking of requesting the same from retailers. 

The 45 to 54-year-old age group is most likely to issue a request, with 21 per cent thinking they will use their new rights within the first month, compared with just 13 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.


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  • Certain data types and uses will be carved out from GDPR and existing employee data will be one of these. It will also be easy for an employer to have in their Employment contract that to employ you they need to hold and retain XYZ data for the period of employ and by accepting the contract you grant this permission. eg take permission away you break your employment contract.

    Some will play ridiculous with their requests, but GDPR is there to protect the citizen without making doing business an impossibility. Genuine requests and needs will be supported, but abusers will find that they cannot use GDPR to rid themselves of bad employment reviews at their existing workplace.