Can I Ask a Former Employer to Delete My Data?


In this day and age of digital technology, private information is continuously being amassed and kept by various institutions. This covers employers who gather and process employees’ personal information for their business. But what happens to the data you’ve contributed once you’ve left the organization? Can you ask your previous employer to remove your data? In this piece, we will discuss individuals’ rights about the personal data 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. Some personal information may be kept for tax or legal purposes for ex-employees.

It is essential to remember 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 sometimes be justified 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:

Examine the company’s data protection notice and privacy policy. To begin, examine the company’s data protection notice and privacy policy. This document should include an overview of how the company manages personal data and details on the retention periods for said data. Additionally, it may offer instructions on how to request the erasure of personal data.

Please find out the appropriate contact person: To identify the person or team responsible for data protection in the organization, refer to the company’s privacy policy or check their website. They may have a designated data protection officer, a privacy team, or a specific contact person handling data protection issues. The contact information for these individuals or teams should be provided in the privacy policy or on the company’s website.

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. Sometimes, 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, one month to respond to your request will commence from the moment 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 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 with the most negligible 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 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.


Template 1

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 any further information or steps are 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.

Best regards,
[Your Name]”

Template 2

Subject: Request for Deletion of Personal Data

“Hello [Employer’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I request that my personal data be handled 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 removing my data from your systems to align with privacy regulations and safeguard information.

If any specific procedures or information are 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.

Warm regards,
[Your Name]”


In conclusion, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) grants individuals the right to request their previous employers to delete their data. Above all, recognize that data privacy is a collective responsibility. Advocate for a privacy-conscious environment. However, this right is not absolute, and businesses may have valid reasons to retain specific data even after employment ends. To request data deletion, familiarize yourself with your rights, review the company’s privacy policy, and follow the necessary formalities. If your request is granted, your former employer will do so.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens to my personal data after I leave a company?

Once you leave a company, the organization may retain your data for a certain period, depending on the purpose of data collection and the legal obligations outlined by data protection regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) emphasizes data minimization, meaning that personal data should only be stored for as long as necessary to fulfill its initial purpose of collection. However, certain types of personal information may be retained for tax or legal purposes even after you leave the company.

Does GDPR apply to former employees?

Yes, the GDPR applies to former employees as well. The GDPR regulates the processing of personal data of individuals within the EU, regardless of their employment status. Therefore, if an EU-based company employs you or if your data is processed within the EU, the GDPR still applies to your data even after you leave the company. This includes the right to request the deletion of personal data, although data retention may be justified in certain circumstances even after employment ends.

How can I request a company to delete my data?

If you want to request that a previous employer delete your personal information, you can take several steps. First, review the company’s data protection notice and privacy policy to understand how they manage personal data and the procedures for data deletion. Then, identify the appropriate contact person responsible for data protection within the organization and submit a written request stating your desire for data deletion. After sending the request, allow the organization adequate time to respond, as they must do so within one month under GDPR.

What are some principles for navigating data privacy with former employers?

When navigating data privacy with former employers, it’s essential to prioritize your privacy above any business interests and keep asking questions until you understand why your data is still stored. Communicate your request for data deletion clearly and concisely, and identify and request the removal of any unnecessary data. Additionally, continue educating yourself about data privacy to make informed decisions and maintain a positive mindset. If you encounter resistance, drive data privacy discussions and actions proactively.

Additional Source: European Commission