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A woman complained because her employer’s insurer wanted the names of all the employees, their ages and the length of time they had been employed there.

Even though she filled out the form sent to the school by the insurer, the woman complained to us because she did not believe the insurer needed to know that level of detail about individual employees.

The woman, who worked at a school in a non teaching role, said she was the oldest person there and she had worked at the school for 19 years. She had never been asked for that much personal information by the insurer before.

We contacted the insurer and explained that the woman’s complaint raised issues under principles 1 to 4 of the Privacy Act.

Principles 1 - 4: Collection

Principle 1 says information must only be collected for a lawful purpose connected with what the collecting agency does.

Principle 2 says information must be collected directly from the person who the information is about unless certain exceptions apply.

Principle 3 says the collecting agency must take reasonable steps to make sure the person knows things like why it is being collected and who will get that information.

Principle 4 says information must not be collected by unlawful means or by means that are unfair or unreasonably intrusive in the circumstances.

Out-of-date form

The insurer said the request for employee information arose from a renewal of the school’s insurance policies.

However, the insurer did say an out-of-date form had been mistakenly sent to the school. That form asked for details of all the staff, including their names, age, qualifications and experience.  The new form, which should have been sent instead, asked for the qualifications and experience of senior teaching staff only, and did not ask for the age of any staff.

The insurer accepted that in this case there had been an error because an out-of-date form was used. It had deleted the age information of the staff from the proposal it had on file and intended to destroy that file once the new proposal using the correct paperwork was in place.

We closed the case after the woman informed us that she considered the matter resolved.

June 2016

Insurance collection  employee information lawful purpose Privacy Act 1993; principles 1, 2, 3 and 4