In an age where it’s almost effortless to find any sort of information about people, the importance of privacy has skyrocketed. The Australian government has set mechanisms to enforce employees’ privacy rights, and to respond to employers infringing upon this right.
Background checks are always important. Most employers will require police checks, which are readily available online, even in the Northern Territories. While this is perfectly legal, it’s important for you to know your rights when it comes to sensitive information.
Unless required by law, it is possible for you to decline requests for information regarding your past. Especially in industries that involve law enforcement or access to sensitive data, employers would consider background checks essential to the recruitment process. Police checks, for instance, offer insight into behaviour—a retail employer would want to know whether you have a history of theft. In other cases, companies may check on your references and make enquiries regarding your performance. It is within a company’s rights to practice due diligence and make sure of your character.
Sensitive Information for Employers
Your personal information is generally requested even before employment. For instance, online application forms ask you to fill in your full name, personal status, address, and birthdate. The information that employers may request from you is limited by law—the Fair Work Ombudsman strictly prohibits questions about race, ethnicity, or political affiliations. If, at any point during the application you are asked about these within the context of work, you can lodge a complaint with the authorities.
Furthermore, employers are obligated to disclose when information needs to be accessed. If your employer asks you to disclose vital information without letting you know why it’s needed, this may be ground for a violation.