Your employee record
The Privacy Act 1988 treats public and private employee records differently.
Public sector employee records
The Privacy Act covers Australian Government and Norfolk Island administration employee records. This means the Australian Privacy Principles apply to the handling of any personal information in current and past employee records.
If you are an Australian Government or Norfolk Island administration employee or past employee you can access the personal information in your employee record under the Privacy Act.
Private sector employee records
The handling of your employee records by a private sector employer is exempt from the Privacy Act if it is directly related to your current or former employment relationship.
So, a private sector employer doesn’t have to grant you access to your employee records under the Privacy Act.
The Privacy Act only applies to an employee record if the information is used for a purpose not directly related to the employment relationship.
However, workplace laws require a range of information to be made and kept for each employee. If you are an employee or former employee you can request access to these records under workplace laws.
For more information about accessing your employee record under workplace laws, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman.
For more information about employment conditions, visit the Fair Work Commission
If you applied for a job but have yet to take it or weren’t successful, generally you can ask for access to information about you. There are some exceptions, so you may not receive all the information about you.
If you applied for a job in the private sector and were unsuccessful, then you may be able to access information related to you under the Privacy Act. Likewise, if you applied for a job in the Australian Government or Norfolk Island administration.
As far as possible, the information an organisation collects about you should be accurate, complete and up to date. In most situations, the Privacy Act gives you a right to access and ask to correct the personal information an organisation holds about you or attach a statement that you think the information is not correct. This includes information relating to a referee's report.
An organisation that isn’t your current or former employer will need to consider its reasons carefully before deciding not to give you access to your referee’s report. In some limited situations, they may be able to deny access under the Privacy Act. For example, if giving you access would be a breach of the law relating to confidentiality.