Private sector employees and personal information

June 1, 2014 - 12:15pm

Information requests for documents containing personal information of public sector employees are likely to attract public interest factors relevant to fostering government transparency and accountability1, which carry substantial weight.

But how do you deal with the personal information of private sector employees?

The recent OIC decision in The Barlow Group Pty Ltd and Department of Housing and Public Works; JM Kelly (Project Builders) Pty Ltd (Third Party)2 (Barlow) considered whether disclosure of a document containing the names and position titles of private sector employees would be, on balance, contrary to the public interest.

The next time you need to make a decision about the personal information of private sector employees, the guidance provided in Barlow might help you. For example:

  • Is the individual the ‘public face’ of the company?
  • Is the individual’s name and position title displayed on the company’s website or any publicly available documents? 
  • Does the information in issue appear in a highly private or personal context?

These considerations may assist you in determining whether the disclosure of personal information about private sector employees would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.

1. See Guideline – Routine work personal information of public sector employees.
2. Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 8 April 2014.