HR Policy Weighs in on Unintended Consequences of Including HR Data in Federal Consumer Data Privacy Bill

July 26, 2019

HR Policy, along with the Society for Human Resource Management and the American Staffing Association, urged Congress to consider the unintended consequences of sweeping employee, contractor, agent, and job applicant data in with consumer data protections in a federal bill.

“Expanding privacy rights for American consumers via consumer privacy legislation should not undermine employers’ efforts to provide leading wages, benefits, and safe workplaces,” the letter reads.  “Unfortunately, most federal and state consumer data privacy measures—including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—would inadvertently make this trade-off.” 

HR data in play in California:  As it now stands, the CCPA covers HR data the same lines as consumer data, but there is recognition in hindsight that there are critical distinctions.  

The California Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill passed by the Assembly (AB-25) that would exempt HR data from most provisions of the CCPA.  But the committee added a one-year sunset in an attempt to push the California legislature toward passing a separate measure on HR data by 2021.  Whether the full California Senate or, subsequently, the State Assembly will approve the change remains to be seen. 

The committee also modified AB-25 to maintain CCPA coverage of HR data in certain cases:  

Employers would be required to inform employees about what information they are collecting and why they are collecting it, and

The law’s private right of action in cases of a security breach would apply to HR data.

Why it matters:  The remainder of the calendar year presents little opportunity for Congress to act on data privacy.  Looking to next year, elections will restrict the time frame and atmosphere for new lawmaking.  If the California Senate Judiciary Committee's version of AB-25 becomes law, however, we can expect a significant effort to regulate HR data in California, pushing the timetable for the issue up significantly.