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Thailand has a comprehensive data privacy regulation, the Personal Data Protection Act (the “PDPA”) that aims to protect the privacy of its citizens. The PDPA was said to go into effect on 27 May 2021. However, in May 2021, the Thai Cabinet through a Royal Decree has deferred the enforcement of certain data protection provisions of the PDPA until 01 June 2022. The PDPA does not specifically address an employer’s handling of employee personal information. As per Section 6 of the PDPA “a person or juristic person has the power and duty to make decisions regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of personal data '' are considered data controllers. Since employers also make decisions regarding the collection, use, or disclosure of personal data of employees, therefore, they would also come under the ambit of PDPA’s obligations.

Employer’s Obligations Under the PDPA

Consent, Notification and Collection Requirements:

Under Section 19 of the PDPA, the employer shall not collect, use, or disclose personal data of employees, unless the employee has given consent prior to or at the time of such collection, use, or disclosures. A request for consent shall be explicitly made in a written statement, or via electronic means unless it cannot be done by its nature. Section 26 of the PDPA prescribes that the employer should not collect the following sensitive personal data without the explicit consent of the employee:

  • Any information pertaining to racial,
  • Ethnic origin,
  • Political opinions,
  • Cult, religious or philosophical beliefs,
  • Sexual behavior,
  • Criminal records,
  • Health data, disability,
  • Trade union information,
  • Genetic data,
  • Biometric data, or of
  • Any data which may affect the employee in the same manner

However, the PDPA provides few exceptions regarding the consent and data collection requirements. Employers can process employees’ personal data when there is a legitimate reason such as a medical emergency or for workers’ compensation claims, public interest, to meet contractual obligations, or to ensure employment protection. As of now, the PDPA does not define employment protection as an exception for the above requirement. Employers must notify employees prior to collecting their personal data, even where consent is not required. Employers should consider the following in order to stay compliant with the PDPA:

  1. Consent of employees should be explicit;
  2. Employees should be informed about the purpose of collection, processing, retention period and/or disclosure;
  3. The collection of personal data should be limited to the extent of its purpose of use;
  4. Employees have the right to withdraw consent at any time;
  5. Employers need to inform employees of any consequences associated with the withdrawal of consent;
  6. The employee's right of access and correction (including the contact information of the person who handles any request for access to the data on the employer's behalf).

Data Retention

The PDPA does not provide any retention period. However, it requires employers to ensure that they inform employees regarding the retention period of their personal data. In Thailand, organizations usually retain the data of their employees for ten years in accordance with the Labor Protection Act. Employers should ensure that they don’t retain any unnecessary personal data of their employees or job applicants.

Data Transfer Obligations

Section 28 of the PDPA addresses the transfer of employee information to third parties, whether in Thailand or abroad. The PDPA states that the destination country and third parties should have adequate data protection standards, and the transfers shall be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the protection of employee’s personal data. It is advised that the employer must obtain consent from the employee before transferring any data and ensuring that the third party has adequate security measures to protect the employees’ data.

Security Measures Requirements:

Employers must take appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorized losses, alterations or disclosure of employees' personal data. The PDPA requires that employers must implement a system to destroy personal data when the retention period is over, when the data is no longer necessary or when the employee requests its destruction.

Data Breach Requirements:

Any personal data breach must be reported to the Office of the Personal Data Protection Committee without delay and, where feasible, within 72 hours after the employer has become aware of it.

Employees’ Rights under The PDPA

Under the PDPA, employees are entitled to a number of rights that the employer needs to honor in order to stay compliant. These rights are as follows:

Right to access:

Employees have the right to access the personal data that the employer collects, uses, and discloses.

Right to be informed:

The employer shall inform the employee about any collection, processing or storage of data prior to or at the time of the collection of the personal data.

Right to erasure:

The employee has the right to request the employer to delete any stored data, except where the employer is not obligated to do so.

Right to rectification:

Employees have the right to rectify incomplete or inaccurate personal data that the employer has stored.

Right to Withdraw Consent:

The employee has the right to withdraw their consent at any time for the purposes that they have consented to the processing of their personal data.

Operationalizing the PDPA

In order to achieve compliance, HR management needs to honor the aforementioned obligations. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Disclose how employees’ data is being processed through transparent formal policies.
  • Develop formal policies and procedures for data collection and handling.
  • Update privacy policies as needed.
  • Ensure privacy policies and notices are easily accessible.
  • Review and update processes.
  • Maintain proper documentation.

Manual methods come with a flurry of obstacles such as high costs and the risk of human error. In this day and age, organizations need to incorporate the help of automation to ensure compliance with privacy regulations such as Thailand’s PDPA.

Securiti’s Sensitive Data Intelligence Solution enables organizations to discover, analyze, and protect large datasets. It offers organizations a 360-degree solution to all their compliance needs. Watch a demo of Securiti’s Sensitive Data Intelligence solution and start your journey to PDPA compliance.

Securiti also offers automated data mapping, DSR rights fulfillment, data breach management and security controls to help you comply with the obligations required by the PDPA.

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