The National Staff Dismissal Register

13 03 2009

A rather alarming new initiative was reported last week: the creation of the National Staff Dismissal Register, by an organisation called Action Against Business Crime (AABC), a consortium formed between the Home office and the British Retail Consortium.  It is a database for employers to share details on those staff dismissed (but not necessarily convicted in the criminal courts) for offences of dishonesty; e.g. theft, forgery, damage to company property and so on. According to the AABC’s own press release the register seeks to create a central register to cover those employees not convicted or cautioned for criminal offences. It appears that it is aimed at the retail industry at the moment, although it will almost certainly spread if successful.  It will go live this month.  Apparently it is not in contravention of the Data Protection Act.

 

This strikes me as being a very dangerous development.  What safeguards are there for employees placed upon it?    It means that unscrupulous employers, or those with a grudge against a former employee could put an employee’s name on the register and effectively stop them getting work in the future.  What about the old adage of being innocent until proved guilty?  This scheme is aimed at those people who haven’t been cautioned or prosecuted and thus haven’t had the opportunity to defend themselves.  It must also raise issues under the Human Rights Act.  I don’t condone workplace crime by any means, but this intrusive scheme can’t be the right way to address the issue.

 

This post first appeared in the “Docklands” and “Peninsula” newspapers last October.

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2 responses

24 03 2009
Peter Lawton

Speaking as someone who has by the grace of God avoided dismissal all his working life, would Jobsworth advise me that if such an eventuality were to arise I would be well advised to seek an undertaking from my employer, as part of the terms in any leaving arrangements, that my name would not appear on the NSDR or any similar register?

I would have thought that employers would be courting potential defamation claims here??

24 03 2009
michaelscutt

Peter

Thanks for the comment. I agree that an undertaking, or better still, a warranty in a compromise agreement should be sought by a departing employee to ensure that their name wasn’t put on any such register.

In reality it would be difficult for an employee to sue for defamation, because of the costs involved and the risk of the employer being able to defend a defamation claim by justification (i.e we did dismiss him for dishonesty). The problem is that the employers actions aren’t judged by the criminal standard of proof, so the employer is making a very serious decision to terminate and then to publicise.

The risk of defamation is much higher in the other, TCA case, where subjective comments were placed on the register – i.e troublemaker, bad egg etc. The employers writing those comments and the TCA themselves are at risk of being sued for defamation I would think. The same problem for a claimant in funding such a claim still exists though.

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