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6. Can an employer ask job applicants whether they have any criminal record?

Data protection principle 1 stipulates that only personal data that are necessary for the purposes for which the data are to be used should be collected. Further, it requires that the data collected should be adequate for those purposes, but not excessive.


No hard and fast rules have been laid down as to what data are necessary for human resources management purposes and what are not. This will depend on the facts of the individual case. For some jobs, it may be necessary to ask whether or not an applicant has a criminal record (e.g. where the employment position involves the control of valuable items, or to undertake a treasury position). In deciding whether it is necessary to collect a particular piece of information, data users should carefully consider whether the purpose for which the data are being collected could still be satisfied if such data are not collected.


For more information about criminal records, please go to another topic ­– Police and Crime.