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Legal requirements and other matters
The following statements set out what we believe to be the main legal requirements relating to the services that we provide. These statements should not be regarded as legally authoritative. It is the responsibility of each customer using our services to ensure that they have taken appropriate advice where this is necessary.
Paydata Ltd abides by the data protection principles set our in the relevant legislation:
- We only use data we collect from our customers, their employees or their members for the purpose agreed with the customer;
- We maintain strict confidentiality and never publish information that could identify an individual;
- We do not share the information we collect about individuals in the course of providing our services with any other person; and
- To complete some of our services we do collect information that, either alone or in conjunction with other information, could allow an individual to be identified. In these cases our policy is to only retain this data for as long as is necessary, for example to complete trend analysis, and/or to make the data anonymous to the extent that this is possible.
It is the responsibility of each of our customers to ensure that they meet the data protection rules in supplying data to us. For many of the services that we provide it is likely that the customer remains the data controller and we act as the data processor. We prefer not to exchange confidential information by unsecured email but will do so where this is the method that the customer uses themselves. We will password protect files containing confidential information but software is available that makes password removal possible.
Some background information
Most companies exchange information on a regular basis. If they didn't business would become very difficult. Competitors may publish certain information about the industry sector within which they work. This helps people make sound decisions, for example investors or the Government.
However, there are risks in sharing information. Sharing too much information, or in too much detail, could cause issues with competition law. This can lead to severe penalties for both businesses and individuals. The main problems occur when the information shared makes it more feasible to predict a competitor’s behaviour.
Companies in unrelated industries often exchange information for legitimate reasons, such as benchmarking. This should not be a problem so long as the information is used appropriately. Companies in related or the same industry need to be much more careful, particularly where the information concerned is not in the public domain. This could include plans for changes in policy or for the annual pay review as these can have a direct impact on costs.
Aggregated data is safer than any data that shows what individual companies are doing. Historical information is also safer than current data. Aggregation helps disguise individual company practice and reduces the risks involved in collecting sensitive information about current practices.
What does this mean in practice?
Competition lawyers have reviewed Paydata’s salary surveys. The feedback we have received is that the risks of exchanging data are minimised if salary survey design includes the following features:
- An independent third party collects and processes the data, not one of the participants;
- Survey reports present aggregated data, so no participant can determine another company’s policy or prices; and
- The data collected is current practice, not future plans.
Overall, our position is that our salary surveys are only intended to provide one input to the decision making process. We do not intend that they provide recommendations about what companies should pay or the policies they should adopt. Our customers should use our reports in conjunction with other information they hold to make decisions using their management judgment.