DWP and Providers do not need consent to contact employers, for payments.

[ Why your consent is very important: DWP, Employers and Work Programme Providers ]

Via a Freedom of Information disclosure of 13 December 2013 it confirms that DWP Providers do now have the power to contact employers, regarding Work Programme (WP) Outcome or Sustainment payments, without a participants consent on the basis of a Designation Order.

Power to do what?

Power to contact employers without consent is not the same as any power to require an employer to supply any employee Personal Data. No such power exists, that requires an employer to disclose employee Personal Data to the DWP or it’s Providers for the purposes of Work Programme (WP) Outcome or Sustainment payments.

DWP guidance amended on 16 December 2013 still requires Providers to give WP participants a leaflet explaining these changes.

“Written and Informed Consent via Designation Order
17. Providers will need to present all of their customers with a leaflet explaining the Departmental position in respect of consent to contact an individual’s employer.”
From: DWP Provider Guidance Chapter 5 – Chapter 5 Evidencing/Validating Payments – Job Outcomes and Sustained Job Outcomes – v2.6 16.12.13

For Providers to obtain such payments and the DWP to validate this all assumes the participant has any obligation or desire to inform either the DWP or it’s Providers of any employment/employer, which they do not. Additionally nothing stops an employee from formally writing to any past or present employer informing not to share their personal data with a WP provider or the DWP. Under the Data Protection Act (1998) any employer would still need  explicit employee consent to share personal data in this context.

There is no legal obligation on employers to provide [employee] information [to DWP or it’s Providers] and they can not be sanctioned for failing to do so.[emphasis added]
From: ‘Consent Flag’ – DWP Central FoI Team – 29 October 2013 – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/180780/response/444351/attach/html/3/FOI%204864.pdf.html

“There is no requirement to provide information [to the Jobcentre] about your employment when ending your [JSA] claim.”
From: DWP Central FoI Team – 21 September 2012
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/127812/response/314666/attach/html/2/FoI%203379%2021.09.12.pdf.html

“Clarification that when completing form WP07b [Change of circumstances] to notify JCP that the participant has started work, full employer details should be supplied where known. [emphasis added]
From: Amendments to Work Programme Provider Guidance – 10 October 2013 https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/work-programme-memo-133.pdf

Confusion on provider powers in this area caused as guidance given to DWP providers seemed to suggest they did need to seek explicit consent to comply with the Data Protection Act from participants and this new power only related to DWP not requiring consent, but it transpires both DWP and it’s Providers have equal powers in this regard.

Original guidance to WP providers said :

“…need to obtain the  customers consent for you to do this [contact employers]  in order to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act”
From: Evidencing/Validating Payments – Job Outcomes and Sustained Job Outcomes -‘DWP Provider Guidance Chapter 5′, Section 18

As of 16 December 2013 the above quote has been removed and replaced with:

Written and Informed Consent via Designation Order

17. Providers will need to present all of their customers with a leaflet explaining the Departmental position in respect of consent to contact an individual’s employer.
18. DWP now has a designation order in place that allows the Department and Providers to contact the customer’s employer directly to validate employment details.
19. There is no longer a requirement for you to obtain customer consent to allow DWP to contact a customer’s employer or for you to contact an employer in
connection with Outcome or Sustainment payments.

From: DWP Provider Guidance Chapter 5 – Chapter 5 Evidencing/Validating Payments – Job Outcomes and Sustained Job Outcomes – v2.6 16.12.13

To reflect above updates will be made to the withhold/withdraw consent letter and other related comments posts like:

On Work Programme (WP)? Got/Getting a Job? Want to stop DWP/Jobcentre and or WP Provider harassment; getting paid?
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/23/providerharassment/

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

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