Nearly 1000 people have signed a petition asking for it to be a legal requirement for employers to give feedback after an interview.

As it stands, it is up to employers to decide how and when they give feedback. Some employers will give feedback at every stage of the recruitment process, some only at the end of the process and others fail to give any at all.

Why are employers reluctant to provide feedback?

Employers often attribute their lack of feedback to the fact that they are dealing with a high volume of applicants and it is simply not feasible to provide feedback to each individual applicant.

There is also a fear that disgruntled job applicants who are deeply unhappy at being rejected will not accept the feedback and twist it to threaten the employer with claims of unlawful discrimination.

Can providing feedback be beneficial to employers?

If handled sensitively, it can be useful for an employer to provide feedback. If you have an internal applicant, it can be a good way to make sure that the employment relationship continues on good terms. It can help prevent frustrated job applicants criticising you on online platforms, which can be seen by other job applicants and a wider audience.

You also don’t want to burn bridges with the applicant. They may not be right for that role, but they may be a great fit for one that comes up in the future.

But can employees see interview notes?

Even if you maintain that it is not company policy to provide feedback, applicants may still be able to see interview notes.

Under the Data Protection Act, individuals can submit a Subject Access Request to obtain copies of personal data held by the employer about themselves. They may be able to access short listing and interview notes if they are held on a file on a computerised system or paper document as part of a structured relevant filing system.

You can charge a fee of up to £10 for the request and you are required to deal with the request within 40 days.

You need to provide the employee with the information requested in an “intelligible” form. Typically, they should be given a copy in permanent form (e.g. photocopy) of the personal data held by you. If the applicant is disabled, you need to consider making reasonable adjustments, for example, providing them with copies of information in braille.

Remember, once the EU General Data Protection Regulations comes into effect on 25th May 2018, some changes will be made to subject access request. Firstly, the Regulations scrap the option of employers charging a fee. The only exception to the general rule is if the request is “manifestly unfounded or excessive”. Secondly, the employer must respond within one month. This may be extended in certain circumstances, for example, if the employer has to deal with a particularly complex issue.

If you would like to explore this further, contact your Employment Law Adviser for guidance.

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