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Does Collection of Personal Data by an Employer Infringe The Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act?


Employment disputes arise when the rights of employees are breached or contractual terms are not followed by either party. To avoid such disputes, it is essential to understand the laws governing employment in Singapore. The Employment Act is a good place to start.

Our lawyers were in a lift in the CBD the other day, precariously positioned in between 2 seemingly disgruntled ladies, when one of them suddenly blurted, “Wa lau! HR find out my new handphone number leh! I going to PDPA them ah!

Our lawyers considered playing good Samaritans and voicing their views, but good sense prevailed and we refrained from offering advice without monies into account.

We presume this is something of interest to many employees, so we shed some light on whether your employer can collect, use or disclose your personal data.

In the Singapore Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (“the PDPA”), personal data is information about someone who can be identified from that information, such as their name, NRIC number, residential address, telephone number. The thrust of the PDPA is any request for personal data must be reasonable given the circumstances. Further, the PDPA has considerable impact, given that it applies to organisations (except public agencies) formed or having a place of business in Singapore or elsewhere.

After 2 July 2014, an organisation must not collect, use or disclose personal data without an individual’s consent. In obtaining consent, the organisation must inform the individual of the purpose of the use or disclosure of the personal data. If one voluntarily provides their personal data, it would be considered that consent has been given.

However, consent is not required in certain circumstances. For example, in an employment context, an employer does not need an employee’s consent to collect, use or disclose personal data provided it is for the purposes of the employment. In this circumstance, the personal data may be attained from the other sources apart from the individual himself / herself.

For further insight into the PDPA, please contact our lawyers.

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Any information of a legal nature in this blog is given in good faith and has been derived from resources believed to be reliable and accurate. The author of the information contained herein this blog does not give any warranty or accept any responsibility arising in any way, including by reason of negligence for any errors or omissions herein. Readers should seek independent legal advice.

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