How can I avoid temporary staff breaching data protection laws in the run-up to Christmas?

Temporary staff are critical to successful trading over the Christmas period, but they can also be a common cause of data protection breaches. Temps are often either unfamiliar with handling customers’ personal information or with the company’s data protection procedures.

Retailers breaching data protection laws risk being fined by the Information Commissioner, and the introduction of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard has boosted the profile of data security. With this in mind, it is essential to ensure temps receive adequate training and are familiar with data protection policies.

Sophie Kemp, associate at law firm Kingsley Napley LLP, says temp staff breaches occur in a wide range of situations. Leaks often occur as a result of mistakes – for instance, information being sent to the wrong person or through lack of awareness of how to store information securely.

Kemp says: “Key to avoiding mistakes is ensuring that temps are made aware of policies on computer security, disposal and storage of customer information, and who to report to in the event of a breach.”

Less common – but a risk because of the increase in online trading of personal information – breaches occur when employees are allowed access to the computer network and are able to steal information from confidential files.

Restricting access to the networks and prohibiting temps from using the login details of permanent employees can reduce risks.

Kemp says: “Training is costly and time consuming but it is vital.”