Published on: May 6, 2022
Authors: Daniel W. Chasen
As the Commerce Committee considers data privacy legislation, I am writing on behalf of HR Policy Association to express our commitment to working with you to develop comprehensive consumer data privacy legislation. At the same time, we want to ensure that legislation expanding privacy rights for consumers does not inadvertently undermine employers' efforts to provide leading wages, benefits, and safe workplaces by covering employment-related data.
HR Policy Association is the leading organization for Chief Human Resources Officers of 400 of the largest employers in the United States. Our member companies collectively employ more than 11 million individuals in the United States and are committed to maintaining a culture of trust in the workplace, especially as relates to workforce data.
Fortunately, most federal and state consumer data privacy measures—including each of the four state consumer data privacy bills enacted thus far in California, Utah, Virginia, and Colorado—recognize that consumer privacy rights are not designed with the workplace in mind and do not cover employment-related data.
There are clear and vital reasons for employers to process employment-related personal information about employees and contractors. Employers collect and process information about workers that is essential for issuing pay checks, administering benefits—such as health insurance and paid leave—and withholding taxes. Rights appropriate to the consumer context, such as the right to be forgotten, to have prescribed forms of disclosure, and to opt out of the transfer of personal data, would do more harm than good if applied in the employment context. Indeed, much of the employment-related data employers collect and process is required by state and/or federal law and is already protected by laws such as the ADA and FMLA (regulating health information disclosure) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (regulating background checks and other uses of personal information).
As Congress works on consumer privacy legislation, we encourage members to consider the inherent differences between employment-related and consumer data. Any federal consumer privacy legislation must be clear in its scope—focused on consumers. Such consideration would enhance legislation that addresses consumer privacy concerns while avoiding undermining employers' efforts and obligations to provide leading wages, benefits, and a safe workplace.
Thank you for your consideration. If the Association can be a resource to you and your colleagues as you work on the development of legislative text, please contact me at [email protected].
Vice President, Workplace Policy
HR Policy Association