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.