In this day and age of digital technology, private information is continuously being amassed and kept by a variety of institutions. This covers employers who gather and process employees’ personal information as part of their business. But once you’ve left the organization, what happens to the data you’ve contributed? Can you ask your previous employer to remove your data? In this piece, we will discuss the rights that individuals have about the personal data that they have collected and provide some insight into how an individual can request that their data be deleted from a previous employer.
How Long Can a Company Keep My Data?
The duration an organization can retain your data depends on the purpose of data collection and the legal obligations set by data protection regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) outlines procedures for safeguarding individuals’ personal information in the United Kingdom. According to GDPR, personal data should not be stored beyond the time necessary to achieve its initial purpose of collection.
While GDPR doesn’t specify data storage timeframes, it emphasizes data minimization. Companies should retain personal data only as necessary, with legal justification. For ex-employees, some personal information may be kept for tax or legal purposes.
It is essential to keep in mind that various categories of personal information may be subject to varying retention periods. For instance, basic contact information may need to be retained for a shorter period than financial records. Additionally, particular sectors of the economy may be subject to industry-specific regulatory requirements that stipulate the amount of time specific categories of data must be stored.
Does GDPR Apply to Former Employees?
A person who has left their employer is nonetheless subject to the GDPR. The GDPR applies to the personal data processing of individuals within the EU, regardless of employment. So, if you worked for an EU-based company or your data is processed in the EU, GDPR applies even after leaving the firm. This is the case even if the company does not operate within the EU.
GDPR grants individuals rights, including data deletion requests. However, data retention may be justified in certain cases even after employment ends.
How Do I Ask a Company to Delete Personal Data?
There are numerous methods you can take if you want to request that a previous employer delete your personal information, including the following:
Submit a written request: To request data removal, send a formal letter or email to your designated contact, stating your desire clearly. Provide precise information about the data to be removed, like personnel records and contact details. Include your full name, former employee ID (if applicable), and contact information in the request.
Regarding the follow-up to your request: After sending the data removal request, give the organization adequate time to respond. Under GDPR, businesses must respond to data subject requests within one month, with possible extensions under certain conditions. If you don’t receive a response or are unsatisfied, you can escalate the complaint to the relevant data protection authority.
Seek the counsel of an attorney if necessary: If you encounter difficulties in getting your data deleted or believe your rights have been violated, consider seeking advice from a data protection attorney. They can provide guidance tailored to your situation and help you navigate the legal aspects of data deletion requests. An attorney’s expertise will support you in protecting your rights and ensuring proper compliance with data protection regulations.
Companies must delete data upon request, if data is no longer necessary.
What Does it Mean to Have the Right to Have Your Data Deleted?
The ‘right to erasure’ is another name for the right to have your data removed from public view. You have the right to request that any organization that maintains data about you remove that data. Under certain conditions, they need to act in this manner. This concept is also known as the ‘right to be forgotten,’ which you might come across occasionally.
How Much Time Is the Organisation Going to Need?
A response to your inquiry will be expected from an entity within one calendar month. In some cases, they may need up to two more months to review your request. They must inform you within one month if additional time is necessary and provide reasons for the extension. Check out our guidance on time limitations for additional information on this topic.
The organization may ask you to provide identification. However, they should not ask you for more information than is necessary to verify that you are the correct person. If they do this, then one month to respond to your request will commence from the moment that they get this extra information.
Principles to navigate data privacy with former employers
(and protect your personal information):
Prioritize Your Privacy
When faced with tradeoffs, prioritize your personal data above any business interests. It’s essential for your peace of mind.
Keep Digging for Answers
There may be underlying reasons why your data is still stored. Keep asking questions until you find the root cause.
Keep it Brief and Clear
When requesting data deletion, choose concise and straightforward communication to avoid confusion.
Eliminate Unnecessary Data
Identify the data that holds the least value and politely request its removal.
Embrace Continuous Learning
Keep educating yourself about data privacy to make informed decisions and protect your information effectively.
Find Positivity in the Process
Although it can be frustrating, maintain a positive mindset while navigating data privacy concerns.
Energize the Effort
If you encounter resistance or apathy, be the driving force behind data privacy discussions and actions.
Subject: Request for Deletion of Personal Data
“Hello [Employer’s Name],
I hope this message finds you well. I’m reaching out regarding a request to kindly delete any personal data or information related to me that might still be retained in [Company’s Name] records. As I’ve moved on from the company, I would greatly appreciate it if you could assist in removing my data from your databases or any other relevant systems.
Please let me know if there’s any further information or steps required from my end to facilitate this process. Your assistance in this matter would be immensely appreciated.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
Subject: Request for Deletion of Personal Data
“Hello [Employer’s Name],
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing with a request regarding the handling of my personal data following my departure from [Company’s Name]. As I move forward in my career, I kindly request the deletion of any personal information associated with me that might still reside in [Company’s Name] records or databases.
I would greatly appreciate your assistance in ensuring the removal of my data from your systems to align with privacy regulations and for the safeguarding of my personal information.
If there are any specific procedures or information required from my end to facilitate this process, please do not hesitate to let me know. Your prompt attention to this matter would be highly valued.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.