With GDPR now 10 months old it is true to say there are an increasing number of questions but, as yet, few answers.
Most people know that employees have a right to be deleted, unfortunate phraseology in my personal opinion! However, have you considered how you might cope if an ex-employee asks for their photo to be deleted from your website or printed brochure?
Deleting someone from your website sounds relatively straightforward but if the individual is in a group photograph that might pose problems. If that photograph is in a printed brochure those problems might become expensive.
There are several things you will need to consider when you receive the request.
The prominence of the individual in the photograph will need to be an early consideration. If the individual is in the front row of a small group of employees then you will have to accede to the request promptly; if they are a small figure at the back of a large group of individuals then it is likely that you will be able to retain the photograph at least until you redesign the website or brochure.
The reason for using the photograph in the first place will also be a consideration. A picture of a group of employees climbing Snowdon for charity is not something you could replicate and is possibly important to the image of your organisation. A snap of your hospitality team on the other hand, can be replicated and would be more accurate if it only shows current employees.
Weigh the balance between your needs and individual rights
You will need to weigh the balance of importance between your need to keep the photograph and the individual’s need to have it deleted. If the ex-employee has gone to work for one of your competitors then they will be very keen for the photograph to be removed. But if removal of the photograph from, for example, a thousand printed brochures is going to be very expensive then there is a dilemma and the answer may rest with the size of your organisation and the financial resources available to it. A small organisation with few financial resources may be able to persuade the individual and/or the Information Commissioner that the request was unreasonable but that you will accede in due course; if you are a relatively wealthy organisation that explanation may not carry very much weight.
Keep an audit trail
As is always the case, maintaining an audit trail of your decision making process is likely to be important. Explain your reasoning clearly, be transparent. When your employee resigns tell them that you will be removing their photograph from your website as soon as practical or from your brochures at the next print run. On the whole, most people are reasonable if they know the problem has been properly considered and that events will take their course. It is not knowing and thinking that the problem is being ignored that so often drives individuals to seek professional advice or worse.