Access to Personal Information Policy and Procedures


Application


All staff members at the University

Purpose


The University gathers personal information for statutory and reasonable operational purposes. This policy provides a framework for access to and use of personal information gathered in the course of the employment of staff.

Background


The University will take all reasonable steps consistent with the law of New Zealand to protect the privacy of the individual when collecting, using or disclosing personal information required for employment purposes.

The Privacy Act 1993 permits individuals to access their personal information except in certain circumstances. It also requires that the University must not use personal information without taking reasonable steps to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date.

Policy


The Privacy Act and disclosure of personal information

Consistent with the provisions of the Privacy Act and other legislation, staff members have a right to privacy over their personal information held by the University. To achieve this:

1.    The University will normally collect personal information directly from the individual and only for purposes connected with a function or activity of the University

2.    The University will take all reasonable steps to ensure the personal information it holds is protected against loss, access, use or modification other than with the authority of the University

3.    Personal information will only be held for as long as it is relevant

4.    Copies of relevant correspondence will be kept on personal files

5.    Individuals have specific rights of access to information held about them. Typically an individual staff member may:

  • request correction of personal information held on their file
  • request that there be attached to their information a statement of the correction sought that is not made by the University

6.    Under these provisions a staff member may seek the destruction of certain information held on their file, including information relating to disciplinary actions

7.    The Director of HR will determine if a request for the destruction of any documents held on a personal file will be approved

8.    Staff members may request that the University review the continuing existence of a warning on their personal file at any time after the expiry of twelve months from the date of that warning

9.    Information supplied under an obligation of confidentiality (e.g. a confidential reference) remains confidential to the University

10.    Information reasonably and justifiably gathered in relation to the employment of members of staff remains the property of the University

11.    Personal information will be used for the lawful and reasonable purposes of the University

12.    Personal information will only be provided to others on a "need to know" basis. Reasonable purposes include:

  • personnel and payroll management
  • statistical, statutory and management reporting
  • personnel administration in general, including the administration of ACC requirements

13.   The Privacy Act allows statutory bodies such as the police, IRD and Work and Income to have certain access to personal information. Any information properly required will be provided by the University, provided appropriate authorisation and identification are sighted

14.    Human Resources will not disclose an unlisted phone number or an address that has been provided in confidence, unless there is an emergency situation

15.    In an emergency situation, the phone number or address will be supplied in confidence only to a person delegated by the Vice -Chancellor to contact the staff member

16.    In all other cases, phone numbers and addresses will be provided and used only for reasonable employment purposes

17.    Where a request to contact the staff member is received, the University may pass on contact details of the caller to the staff member to protect the privacy of the staff member

Recruitment

18.    Information collected during the recruitment process must be relevant to the position applied for and must be kept secure during the appointment process

19.    The applicant’s approval must be secured before the University seeks a reference from any individual

20.    Information collected regarding unsuccessful applicants for an appointment is to be kept for the period specified in the relevant appointment policy, then destroyed

21.    Relevant information from the application of the successful applicant will be transferred to the personal file and retained

Equity information

22.    The University requests the following equity information:

  • gender
  • age
  • ethnicity
  • disability

23.    The University seeks to have information on these equity criteria in order to ensure that the University meets its statutory equity objectives and is acting in accord with its current equity policy. Employees are encouraged to assist the University in this respect by providing relevant information

24.    Gender, age and ethnicity information will be made available to academic heads, managers, supervisors and others to assist in monitoring the University’s achievements in terms of equity diversity

25.    Gender, age and ethnicity are also used for statistical purposes

26.    The University collects equity information on disability for statistical purposes and to provide assistance for staff with disabilities, if they state that they require these services

27.    Requests staff make for assistance are forwarded to Disability Services and a co-ordinator will contact the individual and endeavour to meet their needs

Related procedures


Access to personal file

28.    Staff members will be provided with reasonable copying facilities in Human Resources to copy documents held on their personal file

29.    The original copy of stored information will, wherever practicable, be held on the individual's personal file in Human Resources  

30.    Academic heads/managers may store duplicate information to that held on the HR personal file in a secure file for ease of reference

31.    The following individuals may inspect a staff member’s personal file:

  • the staff member
  • the Vice-Chancellor as the employer of the staff member
  • the academic head/manager of the staff member as the delegate of the Vice-Chancellor
  • any other person in the direct reporting relationship between the staff member and Vice-Chancellor, for reasonable organisational purposes as an employer
  • members of the Human Resources department, for the purpose of managing the staff member's employment relationship with the University or collating or reporting information reasonably required
  • members of the payroll department will have access to information for the purposes of paying staff members
  • internal audit, under the direction of the Vice-Chancellor and/or Council
  • other persons only if required, and only as approved by the Director of HR. The Director of HR may consult the General Counsel before approving such access

32.    Senior managers not in the reporting line between the staff member and Vice-Chancellor do not have an automatic right of access to the staff member’s files

33.     The University may temporarily or permanently remove from the individual's personal file details that refer to another staff member or information supplied subject to an obligation of confidentiality

34.     Information will only be shared on a need to know basis with those listed above, typically to produce metadata to support fairness and equity. In this case, individual information will normally be mixed with information on other individuals of similar level to assist in preserving the privacy of the individual

Leaving the University

35.    The University will supply a Certificate of Service from Human Resources on request from the departing individual

36.    A certificate of service will indicate the commencement and finishing dates and the position(s) held

37.    Academic heads/managers may give appropriate references if they wish

38.    In no case will a positive written or verbal reference be given where a staff member has been dismissed

39.    Requests for telephone references will be handled with care.  References will normally only be given where the University has positive confirmation that the staff member approves of the reference being given to the person seeking it, under the provisions of the Privacy Act 1993

40.    Information is collected from persons leaving the employment of the University via an exit interview or exit survey concerning their reasons for leaving, and any observations they might care to make about the University, its policies and practices

41.    Human Resources will collect the information on a standard form prior to the person leaving by speaking with the staff member

42.    This information is to be used by Human Resources as an audit of employment policies and practices

43.    No information collected through this process is to be made available to academic heads/managers or other individuals, and the information is not held on the individual’s personal file

44.    Upon leaving the University, contractual and payment details on personal files are stored for seven years for legal requirements

45.    Information regarding disputes must be kept for at least six years before being considered for destruction, unless approved by the Director of HR

Definitions


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic head covers heads of departments, schools and other teaching and research units at Level 3 in the University Organisation Structure

Staff member refers to an individual employed on a full or part time basis

Personal information means information about an identifiable individual staff member

Personal file means a dossier which holds all employment related information regarding an individual staff member. This includes the personal file in the HR department, any file held on a staff member in an academic unit and any electronic records held about an staff member

Document management and control


Owner: Director, Human Resources

Content manager: Associate Director, HR Services

Approved by: Vice-Chancellor

Date approved:  12 January 2015             

Review date: 1 March 2018