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Data Protection Policy

Introduction
Synergy Professions as part of its business may need to gather and use certain information about companies and individuals.

These can include individuals using our services, suppliers, business contacts, employees and other people the organisation has a relationship with or may need to contact.

This policy describes how this personal data is collected, handled and stored to meet the company’s data protection standards – and to comply with the law.

This data protection policy ensures that we:

  • Comply with data protection law and follow good practice
  • Protect the rights of staff, customers and partners
  • Are open about how we store and process individuals’ data
  • Protect the company from the risks of a data breach


Data protection law

The Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation

(GDPR) describes how organisations – including Synergy Professions – must collect, handle and store personal information. These rules apply regardless of whether data is stored electronically, on paper or on other materials. To comply with the law, personal information must be collected and used fairly, stored safely and not disclosed unlawfully. The Data Protection Act and GDPR is underpinned by eight important principles which state that personal data must:

  1. Be processed fairly and lawfully
  2. Be obtained only for specific, lawful purposes
  3. Be adequate, relevant and not excessive
  4. Be accurate and kept up to date
  5. Not be held for any longer than necessary
  6. Processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects
  7. Be protected in appropriate ways
  8. Not be transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), unless that country or territory also ensures an adequate level of protection


Policy scope

This policy applies to:

  • All staff of Synergy Professions and its Directors
  • All contractors, suppliers and other people working on behalf of Synergy Professions
  • It applies to all data that the company holds relating to identifiable individuals, even if that information technically falls outside of the Data Protection Act 1998 and GDPR

This can include:

    • Names of individuals
    • Postal addresses
    • Email addresses
    • Telephone numbers
    • Plus any other information relating to individuals


Data protection risks

This policy helps to protect Synergy Professions from data security risks, including:

  • Breaches of confidentiality. For instance, information being given out inappropriately.
  • Failing to offer choice. For instance, all individuals should be free to choose how the company uses data relating to them.
  • Reputational damage. For instance, the company could suffer if hackers successfully gained access to sensitive data.


Responsibilities

Everyone who works for or with Synergy Professions has some responsibility for ensuring data is collected, stored and handled appropriately.

Anyone handling personal data must ensure that it is handled and processed in line with this policy and data protection principles.

However, these people have key areas of responsibility:

The Directors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that Synergy Professions meets its legal obligations.

Garan Eccleston is the designated Data Protection Manager and is responsible for:

  • Keeping all updated about data protection responsibilities, risks and issues.
  • Reviewing all data protection procedures and related policies, in line with an agreed schedule.
  • Arranging data protection training and advice for the people covered by this policy.
  • Handling data protection questions from staff and anyone else covered by this policy.
  • Dealing with requests from individuals to see the data Synergy Professions holds about them (also called ‘subject access requests’).
  • Checking and approving any contracts or agreements with third parties that may handle the company’s sensitive data.
  • Ensuring all systems, services and equipment used for storing data meet acceptable security standards.
  • Performing regular checks and scans to ensure security hardware and software is functioning properly.
  • Evaluating any third-party services, the company is considering using to store or process data. For instance, cloud computing services.
  • Approving any data protection statements attached to communications such as emails and letters.
  • Addressing any data protection queries from journalists or media outlets like newspapers.
  • Where necessary, working with other staff to ensure marketing initiatives abide by data protection principles.

General Guidelines

  • The only people able to access data covered by this policy should be those who need it for their work.
  • Data should not be shared informally. When access to confidential information is required, employees can request it from the Directors.
  • Synergy Professions will provide training to all employees to help them understand their responsibilities when handling data.
  • Employees should keep all data secure, by taking sensible precautions and following the guidelines below.
  • In particular, strong passwords must be used and they should never be shared.
  • Personal data should not be disclosed to unauthorised people, either within the company or externally.
  • Data should be regularly reviewed and updated if it is found to be out of date. If no longer required, it should be deleted and disposed of.
  • Employees should request help from their line manager or the data protection officer if they are unsure about any aspect of data protection.

Storage of Data
Questions about storing data safely can be directed to the responsible Director.

When data is stored on paper, it should be kept in a secure place where unauthorised people cannot see it.

These guidelines also apply to data that is usually stored electronically but has been printed out for some reason:

  • When not required, the paper or files should be kept in a locked drawer or filing cabinet.
  • Employees should make sure paper and printouts are not left where unauthorised people could see them such as on a printer.
  • Data printouts should be shredded and disposed of securely when no longer required.
  • When data is stored electronically, it must be protected from unauthorised access, accidental deletion and malicious hacking attempts:
  • Data should be protected by strong passwords that are changed regularly and never shared between employees.
  • If data is stored on removable media (like a CD or DVD), these should be kept locked away securely when not being used.
  • Data should only be stored on designated drives and servers and should only be uploaded to approved cloud computing services.
  • Should servers containing personal data be used, they should be sited in a secure location, away from general office space.
  • Data should be backed up frequently. Those backups should be tested regularly, in line with the company’s standard backup procedures.
  • Data should never be saved directly to laptops or other mobile devices like tablets or smart phones.
  • All servers and computers containing data should be protected by approved security software and a firewall.

Use of data
Personal data is of no value to Synergy Professions unless the business can make use of it on a legitimate interest basis. However, it is when personal data is accessed and used that it can be at the greatest risk of loss, corruption or theft:

  • When working with personal data, employees should ensure the screens of their computers are always locked when left unattended.
  • Personal data should not be shared informally. In particular, it should never be sent by email, as this form of communication is not secure.
  • In the event that data is transferred to a Third Party, it must be encrypted before being transferred electronically using the facilities provided by the company’s Internet Service Provider.
  • Personal data should never be transferred outside of the European Economic Area.
  • Employees should not save copies of personal data to their own computers. Always access and update the central copy of any data.

Accuracy of data
The law requires Synergy Professions to take reasonable steps to ensure data is kept accurate and up to date.

It is the responsibility of all employees who work with data to take reasonable steps to ensure it is kept as accurate and up to date as possible.

  • Data will be held in as few places as necessary.
  • Staff should not create any unnecessary additional data sets.
  • Staff should take every opportunity to ensure data is updated. For instance, by confirming a customer’s details when they call.
  • Synergy Professions will make it easy for any persons falling into the category of data subjects to update the information Synergy Professions holds about them. For instance, via the company website.
  • Data should be updated as inaccuracies are discovered.

Subject Access Requests
All individuals who are the subject of personal data held by Synergy Professions are entitled to:

  • Ask what information the company holds about them and why.
  • Ask how to gain access to it.
  • Be informed how to keep it up to date.
  • Be informed how the company is meeting its data protection obligations.

If an individual contacts the company requesting this information, this is called a subject access request.   Subject access requests from individuals should be made by email, addressed to the data controller, Garan Eccleston g.eccleston@synergyprofessions.com  The data controller can supply a standard request form, although individuals do not have to use this.

Individuals will be charged £10 per subject access request. The data controller will aim to provide the relevant data within 14 days.

The data controller will always verify the identity of anyone making a subject access request before handing over any information.

Other reasons for disclosing data
In certain circumstances, the Data Protection Act and GDPR allow personal data to be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without the consent of the data subject.

Under these circumstances, Synergy Professions will disclose requested data.

However, the data controller will ensure the request is legitimate, seeking assistance from the board and from the company’s legal advisers where necessary.

Providing Information
Synergy Professions aims to ensure that individuals are aware that their data is being processed, and that they understand:

  • How the data is being used
  • How to exercise their rights

To these ends, Synergy Professions has a privacy statement, setting out how data relating to individuals is used by the company.

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