PL&B UK E-news, Issue 95

1. New notification fees enter into force today

Parliament has approved the new notification fees which are £500 per annum for large organisations and continue at £35 per annum for smaller organisations. The new rate of £500 applies to data controllers with a turnover of £25.9 million and 250 or more members of staff, as well as to public bodies with 250 or more members of staff.

Other organisations fall into the second category and pay £35 per annum. Registered charities and small occupational pension schemes will not have to pay the higher fee of £500, regardless of their size and turnover, and will remain in the lower-tier unless exempt from the requirement to notify altogether.

The ICO advises that “member of staff” means any:

  • employee;
  • worker within the meaning given in section 296 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992;
  • office holder; or
  • partner.

Individuals who work part-time hours are counted as one member of staff.

The number of members of staff of the data controller is to be calculated by:

(a) ascertaining for each completed month of the data controller’s financial year the total number of persons who have been members of staff of the data controller in that month;
(b) adding together the monthly totals; and
(c) dividing by the number of months in the data controller’s financial year.

Groups of companies need to assess the numbers of members of staff and turnover for each separate company in the group, not the overall group figures.

The ICO points out that there has not been any change to the notification fee level since the Data Protection Act 1998 entered into force in 2000. The income earned through the new fee structure will help the ICO to finance its enforcement and audit activity, which will grow substantially once the new powers, now being debated in Parliament under the Coroners and Justice Bill, are in place.

Data controllers will have to self-assess to determine which category they fall into. The Ministry of Justice’s reasoning behind the higher fees is that large organisations involve the ICO in more work than the smaller ones. It has been estimated that over 90% of all businesses that are currently notified will continue to pay a fee of £35.

The ICO handbook on notification fees can be downloaded. 

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