Personal Privacy in an Information Society. Records The Relationship Generates


In a small organization the various items of information maintainedabout an employee are frequently mingled in one file, and the custodian ofthe file may perform a number of loosely related record-keeping functions.In a large organization, on the other hand, the need to deal in a consistentway with large numbers of employees, and to match applicant abilities withjob requirements, calls for specialized functions and records. Over the years,personnel departments have expanded to handle not only recruitment,selection, and job placement but also, in many cases, industrial relations,benefit programs, occupational medicine and safety, and compliance withvarious Federal and State government requirements. All of these functionshave record-keeping consequences for the individual applicant or employee.Employee records are of necessity individually identifiable. Electronicdata processing has streamlined personnel record keeping, but even largecorporations still keep some of their employment records, particularly thoseinvolving subjective evaluations and those on applicants for jobs, in manualsystems. Some of these records relate directly to employment, such aspayroll records, grade and skill classifications, leave records, performance evaluations, and promotion tables. Others, such as pension records, life and health insurance records, medical records, counseling records, and home-loan records, are tangentially related. The need to keep well organized, readily accessible records is all the more imperative because of skill specialization in the workplace, increasingly complicated bookkeeping requirements, and Federal and State government record-keeping and reporting requirements, especially those which require that the basis of an employment decision be carefully documented.

Some corporations establish specific guidelines for personnel record keeping and inspect all record-keeping units periodically. In others, however, subordinate managers control the records their units maintain and use, so that while central management may set general policy, it cannot vouch for compliance with it.