There used to be a secret list of lazy, litigious construction workers that HR managers could refer to before hiring. It was run by a shady outfit called the Consulting Association. I mean that's broadly a good idea isn't it? (I just pity the poor souls whose livelihoods are ruined by ending up on the list in error).
When we started out in the nanny industry there was a similar list. There are a few very bad nannies who make up references and they're pretty cunning at finding themselves work. Shouldn't nanny agencies share a black list? Well our friends at VOICE put an end to that before it really got started. Shame.
Broadly the Information Commissioner, the faceless champion of data protection, does a good job. We're all vaguely aware of the rules around privacy. And if you do a lot of work for banks and professional firms, as we do, then you will have any number of data security reminders thrown in your face on a daily basis.
How secure is too secure?
Of course sometimes it can go too far. When you have a memory like mine changing your password on a quarterly basis to something that must include letters, caps, integers, roman numerals and the odd hieroglyphic is painful.
I kid you not, last week I watched someone in our office lock their computer before before walking 5 yards across the floor to have a 2 minute chat with a colleague. To be fair it was our own security champion, but still...
When it comes to exactly where the data security lines should be drawn there are, by necessity, some grey areas. The Criminal Records Bureau (or DBS as it is now) was a good idea.
But just look at the mess that passes for "process" when it comes to enhanced disclosures for people working with children. Incidents and allegations that have been recorded but not proved are flagged to potential employers via the employers copy of the disclosure but do not show on the employee's version. That has to be sensible but it's also a messy system full of potential pitfalls and drives a metaphorical coach and horses through the concept of innocent until proven guilty.
Our own history with the Information Commissioner as to what constitutes fair disclosure around childcare is reasonably adversarial. I like to think we lost the battle but won the war. Grey areas aren't necessarily a bad thing and realistically there's no other way.
It's just the lawyer in me that struggles to cope!