The Privacy Commissioner has investigated an employer after a complaint by an employee that it would not provide him with a copy of his own personal information.

The employee was engaged in a dispute with the employer about his use of a company vehicle. As a result, the employee requested that the employer provide him with a copy of all personal information it held about him.

The employer declined the request, explaining that the request was vexatious (purely to cause annoyance).

The employer believed that the request was made in relation to industrial action the employee was involved in. The Union had encouraged all of its members to make Privacy Act requests. Therefore, the employer believed that the request was vexatious.

The Commissioner explained that the employer relied on the timing of the action to deny the request, and did not consider any alternative reasons for the request.

The Commissioner held that the employer did not have a proper reason to refuse the employee’s request for personal information when the vehicle dispute was taken into account. The employer subsequently released the information.

It is important to understand when and why requests for personal information should be granted or refused. Failure to know the difference may result in official investigations, and potentially legal action.

If an employer has failed to provide personal information that you have requested, or there are concerns that a request may be vexatious, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Alan Knowsley