Data Security

The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) aims to strengthen the privacy rights and data protection of individuals, including employees. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the CPRA and its implications for employee data. From the definition and purpose of CPRA to the key changes introduced by this act, we explore how it impacts the protection of employee data.

What is CPRA?

The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), passed by the California legislature, is a data privacy law aimed at enhancing consumer privacy and tightening the rules for businesses.

Definition and Purpose of CPRA

The CPRA is an extension of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that introduces stricter data processing guidelines, particularly concerning employee data and the privacy notice stipulation requiring businesses to disclose their data collection practices.

Key Changes Introduced by CPRA

One of the key modifications brought by the CPRA is the inclusion of new definitions, including “sensitive personal information.” This broadens the scope of data protection laws, encompassing more aspects of consumer and employee data.

Impact on Employee Data Protection

Unlike its predecessor, the CPRA explicitly addresses employee data requirements, offering increased protection of employee personal information and laying down stricter regulations for employers.

Scope of Employee Data under CPRA

Definition and Examples of Employee Data

Employee data under the CPRA refers to all personal information collected in the context of an individual’s role as a job applicant, employee, officer, director, or contractor. It includes, but is not limited to identifiers such as name, address, Social Security number, and other employment-related information like performance evaluations and grievances filed.

Employee Data Protection Rights under CPRA

The CPRA provides employees with several data privacy rights. These include:

  • The right to access their data.
  • The right to correct inaccuracies.
  • The right to object to data processing in certain circumstances.

Additionally, if an employer does not comply with these regulations, employees have the right to take legal recourse.

Under the CPRA, employers have specific legal obligations relating to employee data. They must provide detailed privacy notices to their employees, obtain clear consent before data processing, and adhere to data minimization principles. Non-compliance could lead to hefty fines and legal action.

Key Provisions for Employee Data Protection

Under the CPRA, the California legislature has rolled out noteworthy provisions that significantly enhance employee data requirements and consumer privacy.

One vital aspect of the privacy laws under CPRA is the employee’s right to give or withhold their consent for data processing. Employers must obtain clear and express consent before collecting and processing employee personal information. Furthermore, employees have the right to opt out of the sale or sharing of their personal information.

Employee Data Collection and Usage Restrictions

Another provision of the employee data CPRA is the restriction on the collection and usage of employee data. This provision directly targets data minimization and purpose limitation principles. It stipulates that employers should collect only what is necessary for a specified purpose and should not further process the collected data in a manner incompatible with that purpose. For example, if sensitive personal information is collected for payroll purposes, it should not be used for marketing or other non-related activities.

Employee Data Breach Notification Requirements

CPRA also emphasizes employee rights during a data breach. If there’s a security incident involving sensitive personal information, businesses are obliged to inform affected individuals without unnecessary delay. This stipulation requiring immediate notification enables employees to act immediately to protect themselves from potential harm.

Steps for Employers to Ensure Compliance

Conducting a Data Inventory and Assessment

Companies must conduct a comprehensive data inventory and assessment to comply with these privacy regulations. They must understand what personal information they hold, where it resides, how it’s processed, and with whom it’s shared. By maintaining an accurate record of their processing activities, they’ll be better placed to comply with the data privacy requirements of CPRA.

Implementing Privacy Policies and Procedures

Once the data inventory and assessment are complete, the next step is to develop and implement detailed privacy policies and procedures. These should clarify employees’ data privacy rights and include a clear privacy notice explaining how the company collects, uses, discloses, and protects employees’ personal information.

Training Employees on Data Protection Best Practices

Finally, employers must train all relevant staff on these data protection policies and procedures. Such training will ensure the uniform application of the set practices. The training should cover a range of relevant aspects, including consent management, data minimization, and data breach response protocol.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with CPRA

Businesses that fail to comply with CPRA can face significant penalties, including:

Fines and Monetary Penalties

Under CPRA, monetary penalties can be levied against businesses for violations of privacy laws. Companies can incur a fine of $7,500 for an intentional violation and a $2,500 fine for an unintentional violation. Therefore, companies must prioritize compliance with the law to avoid these severe consequences.

Reputational Damage and Loss of Trust

Non-compliance with CPRA can also result in reputational damage. In the age of digital security, consumers value their privacy highly. Good data privacy practices comply with laws such as CPRA and foster trust between businesses and consumers, leading to stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.

Beyond financial penalties, non-compliance with CPRA can result in legal consequences. Failure to protect sensitive personal information or other employee data as stipulated by the Act can expose a business to litigation, including class action lawsuits.

How to Safeguard Employee Data under CPRA

Companies can take various measures to ensure they adhere to the employee data requirements in the California Privacy Rights Act. Here’s a quick guide on steps businesses can take.

Employee Data Encryption and Security Measures

Under CPRA, businesses are required to implement reasonable security procedures and practices. This often includes encrypting personal information and employee data to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. Other measures, such as the use of firewalls and security software, can also help safeguard sensitive information.

Regular Data Audits and Risk Assessments

Regular data audits and risk assessments are integral to data processing under the CPRA. These assessments help businesses pinpoint potential vulnerabilities in their data security systems and rectify them promptly, significantly reducing the risk of data breaches and non-compliance with CPRA rules.

Third-Party Vendor Due Diligence and Contractual Agreements

To comply with CPRA, third-party vendors who process employee personal information on behalf of a business must also maintain compliance with privacy laws. Companies should conduct thorough due diligence when selecting vendors and incorporate explicit data protection clauses into all agreements.

Keep Employee Data Safe During Verification with Vault Verify

It’s crucial for businesses operating in California to adhere to CPRA requirements and otherwise practice good data privacy to avoid fines, breaches, and other issues. But where should companies turn to for a secure service when it comes to income and employment verification?

At Vault Verify, our employment and income verification services are secure and robust. Using application programming interfaces (APIs), Vault Verify reduces the exposure of your sensitive employee data by over 99%. Moreover, we provide real-time interfaces with multiple payroll systems. Our solution takes data even further by redacting personally identifiable information after 30 days and removing it entirely from our system after 90 days. Vault Verify uses a company’s personnel information only to provide verifications of employment and income.

If you want to partner with a team that takes your employee data seriously and uses industry-leading verification solutions to streamline HR processes, look to Vault Verify. Request a demo today to see how our system can work for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the CPRA apply to employee data?

Yes, the CPRA applies to company employees, directors, owners, officers, and contractors. It also applies to B2B contacts and job applicants.

How is personal data defined in CPRA?

The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) defines personal information very broadly as:

“Information that identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.”

This includes things like:

  • Names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses
  • Shopping habits, browsing history, online behavior
  • Location data, biometrics, employment information
  • Audio/visual data like photos and call recordings
  • Inferences drawn from the above data to create profiles