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Policy & Resources Committee responds to ODPA finding on employer references for job applicants

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Friday 12 April 2024

The Policy & Resources Committee is extremely concerned that the legal provisions for the confidentiality around references for job applicants may not be sufficiently robust.

The issue has come to the fore as a result of a decision by the Office of the Data Protection Authority, against the Committee, and the ODPA's public statement on the matter today which indicates to all employers that their job references will not necessarily be considered confidential.

The Committee's view is that the ODPA's current interpretation of the law in Guernsey is too narrow and creates a situation where employers will feel unable to provide honest feedback in a reference, effectively removing any real value of references altogether.  The Committee believes this has serious implications for recruitment in Guernsey and therefore must be addressed.

The Committee has accepted the ODPA's decision in this specific case but intends to discuss with the Committee for Home Affairs what changes should be made to Guernsey's current data protection legislation.  Without a change, the Island is not aligned with England and Wales.  The Committee hopes this will lead to changes that ensure the law provides much greater certainty that job references should be treated as confidential in the hands of both the past employer and prospective employer.

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