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What does GDPR mean to HR and Talent?

As part of our ongoing series of events with Bird & Bird, which explore legal issues around HR, we were delighted to cover the topical subject of GDPR. 

GDPR event

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May 2018, replacing the Data Protection Act and bringing the concept of Data privacy firmly into the 21st century.  

As the HR function is typically the custodian of the personal data of all employees past, present and future, understanding data privacy regulations is absolutely crucial for all HR and Talent professionals.

Gabriel Voisin, a Data Privacy Partner at Bird & Bird, kicked off the workshop with the basics: 

  • clearly defining what personal data is
  • what constitutes a 'special category' of data
  • who is a Data Controller, Data Processor and Data Subject?  


He also explained the background to GDPR in its current format and how it has significantly raised the stakes: sanctions for a breach will now be up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover for larger firms.

The message is clear:  as an HR professional you need to take data privacy seriously. 

Gabriel and Kate Hurn of the Employment Practice at Bird & Bird identified a number of key areas of HR activity worth considering:

  • Recruitment & background check activities
  • Privacy Impact Assessments
  • Updating employee privacy notices
  • Monitoring UK staff email communications    
  • Intra group HR data transfers
  • Contractual agreements with HR vendors acting as Processors
  • Data retention periods
  • Data subject access requests


All in all this amounted to a comprehensive review and our audience of senior HR professionals were deeply engaged.  Thank you to our attendees for their participation and pertinent questions, which prompted an engaging Q&A session.

A clear takeaway was that much of the guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office is just that and there is a distinct lack of hard detail in the regulations so far. This means much of it remains open to interpretation. As such, the insight provided by Bird & Bird was immensely valuable. 



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