The purpose of the POPI Act, as defined by the Act itself, is to protect personal information, to strike a balance between the right to privacy and the need for the free flow of, and access to information, and to regulate how personal information is processed.
The Act applies to any individual without bias and to those who are in the possession of any personal information belonging to another, unless those records are subject to other legislation which protects such information more strictly. The Act sets the minimum standard regarding personal information as well as regulating the “processing” of personal information. By “processing” the Act refers to the collecting, receiving, recording, organising, retrieving, or use of any such information; and the distribution or sharing of any such information.
Audio Recordings in the Workplace
Examining what the law says about audio recording of meetings, conversations etc.
With ever changing and advancing technological developments that have been made readily available to the public, employers are increasingly confronted with secret audio recordings being submitted as evidence. Technology has made it easy to capture audio recordings with small and easily concealable devices, an iPod or smartphone can record lengthy discussions without detection.
This trend of behaviour can be expected given South Africa’s current socio-economic climate, which has heightened the importance of job security for many South Africans. Employers, it would seem, aren’t catching onto this trend and would not ordinarily record their employee meetings or disciplinary proceedings.
Protection of Personal information Act having been promulgated in November 2013, various questions have been raised by employers regarding their rights to question or obtain information from employees. One of the questions regularly dealt with, is whether the employer is entitled to question employees about medical conditions listed on medical certificates when they have been booked off work. The question may arise where, for example, an employer is concerned that a medical condition may be hazardous to other employees if they are exposed to the affected employee.