Skip to content

What are the data protection implications of holding Covid-19 health data?

The ICO is providing new guidance to organisations regarding data protection and coronavirus, which can be accessed here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-coronavirus/

Information about the Covid-19 health status of individuals is special category data under the GDPR. This means it is high risk which has implications for how you use it, store it and keep it secure.

You will already hold health data about your employees as this is necessary to provide a safe, accessible place to work and to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace. You now need to make sure that the information you gather about your employees, visitors to your sites, customers and suppliers about Covid-19 is processed in accordance with data protection laws.

Related FAQs

When should I apply to extend the period allowed to file accounts?

The application has to be made before the date on which the accounts should have been filed, so this process can’t be used if you are already late. If you don’t make the application before your filing deadline, then a fine will automatically be generated if your accounts are filed late. Whilst you could appeal against such a fine on the grounds that the delay was caused by coronavirus issues, this is likely to be a much more time consuming and uncertain process that applying in advance.

It does not appear that the process applies to Confirmation Statements or other returns.

Is there a time limit on making an insurance claim?

All policies will impose a stringent obligation, often with time limits, for you to notify insurers of circumstances that may give rise to a potential claim under the policy and non-compliance may well negate your cover. If therefore you have potential cover under your policy you must make a precautionary notification to Insurers as soon as possible.

Can I wait until April to carry out assessments?

We don’t recommend this. Status determination statements must be issued before 6 April 2021 for current engagements and the appropriate deductions are to be made on payments for services carried out on or after 6 April 2021.

Would it be appropriate to suspend someone who refuses to restrict their duties?

Suspension should always be a last resort and not a knee jerk reaction. We would not advise suspension unless a the above steps around the risk assessment have been undertaken. Depending on your local policies, suspension could then be an option on the basis that their health and safety and the health and safety of others are put at risk by their actions.

When does IR35 generally apply?

It would apply if the contractor uses an intermediary to provide their services or labour and they would be deemed to be an employee or office holder for tax purposes if they were hired directly by the end user client rather than via the intermediary PSC. This would of course require an assessment of employment status for tax purposes.

Contractors who are not taxed in the UK and supply their services exclusively from outside of the UK are unaffected.

If IR35 applies, tax and NIC’s should be deducted under PAYE by the PSC. In reality this has not been happening so a major reform of the regime was due to be implemented in April 2020. The changes were postponed by one year and are due to take effect from 6 April 2021.

“Within IR35” means a contractor arrangement is caught by IR35 and the individual should be taxed as an employee.

“Outside IR35” means a contractor arrangement is not caught by IR35 and the contractor status is fine.