Since my blog on health information, we’ve had a number of questions around health information or special category information when it’s collected from employees.  When you have employees, you will often be processing special category information around their health because you need to pay them sick pay, information about their ethnicity or ethnic origin because you might collect that as part of your equal opportunities monitoring. You might collect information about trade union membership through your payroll if the employee makes payments through their salary for trade union subs. You might understand their religion due to the time they have off or if you’re making allowances for them to do religious observances.

When you have an employee you’re collecting quite a bit of special category information about them.

Health Information – we collect health information as part of an employment contract because we need to pay our employees sick pay, whether that is statutory sick pay or occupational sick pay. We collect the personal information and the condition for processing would be employment, social security and social protection as you are required to record sickness absence to you can pay them. You may also collect health information when they have accident at work as part of the requirements of Health and Safety legislation and when undertaking a risk assessment as part of their employment.

Ethnicity or Ethnic Origin – if you’re collecting ethnicity you would normally need explicit consent. If you are capturing it as part of equal opportunities monitoring and you are genuinely anonymising the information, in that it cannot be traced back to an individual, then you wouldn’t need an additional condition for processing.

Religious Belief or Philosophical beliefs – You may gather this about an employee due to religious observances or holiday planning. This would require explicit consent to be able to record the information. Explicit consent is a different standard from normal consent.

These are the most common uses of special category information for employees. But if you have any others, then please come back and ask as we’ll expand this information.

We are always happy to help if you’ve got any questions just drop us an email or give the helpline a call.