Information Privacy and Employee Records in Australia: Which Way Forward?
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In 2000, the Howard Liberal-National Coalition Government enacted the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act. This Act exempted employee records from privacy protection, and was justified by the Government on the ground that employee records protection was better addressed under workplace relations legislation. In February 2004, after much criticism of the exemption, the Government initiated a review of employee records privacy; the closing date for submissions was 16 April 2004. Since that time, the Howard Liberal-National Coalition Commonwealth rewrote industrial relations legislation, excluding any reference to employee records. In addition, there has been a lack of papers published since the 2004 inquiry despite heightened activity by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner; the exception being the recent review undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) (2007). We argue that the Government's approach to the regulation of workplace privacy was inadequate. Consequently, it is appropriate to revisit this issue and remove the employee records exemption, replacing it with a more robust framework of protections.