HMRC clarifies new employee address policy

04 December 2014

We recently reported an HMRC statement that with effect from April 2015 they will update individual employees' records each time an employer provides a new address. This guidance included a requirement for employers to notify employees individually. Following concerns received HMRC have issued some detailed clarification.

The feedback indicated that employers felt their data protection obligations were covered by existing arrangements, and they therefore did not see any need to provide a further notification to their employees.

The HMRC explanation now issued reads as follows:

It is important to stress that employers, as data controllers, need to satisfy themselves that they are complying with the Data Protection Act (DPA). However, HMRC’s view is that this use of personal data is not excessive. HMRC needs these address details. We know that a lot of the addresses we hold for employees are out of date. Getting up to date address details from employers will enable HMRC to check that we hold the correct addresses and, if not, to update them. So it is clearly in the interests of the employees and employers, as well as HMRC, that we have accurate addresses for all of our customers.

HMRC is also of the view that by sending the address details to HMRC, employers will not breach the Fairness provisions in the DPA. Employers are legally required to submit the address of new employees to HMRC. Most employees will probably assume that employers continue to send address information to HMRC, and this use of the data would not therefore be unexpected. However, if any employer is in any doubt that their employees might regard this use of their personal data as being unexpected, then they will need to notify their employees to ensure that they comply with the DPA’s Fairness provisions.

In summary, HMRC is satisfied that the disclosure of employee address to HMRC does not breach the DPA, and we are aware of no legal barrier that would prevent employers from providing address data to HMRC.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who provided feedback on this change and hope this latest message provides the necessary clarification.