Privacy & Confidentiality

He Puakanga Kaupapa – Policy Statement

This policy promotes and protects individuals’ privacy in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules) 2008.

It relates to the collection, storage, accessibility, and disclosure of clients’ personal information.

This policy also protects the confidentiality of information relating to the work of Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley (CLWHV).

Te Korahi – Scope

This policy covers all staff and volunteer workers of CLWHV.

Te Kaupapa – Policy

  • All client-related information will be held confidential, at all times unless there is a legal requirement to disclose or a staff member or volunteer fears for the health and safety of any person.
  • Client-related information may be used for statistical purposes but all identifying information should be removed.
  • Some instances in which staff or volunteers may breach client confidentiality are:
    • Where a client has told you they plan on committing a crime
    • Where a client has threatened their own safety it may be necessary to contact the CAT team or other emergency services
    • Where a staff member has concerns for the safety of a child it may be necessary to contact CYFS or other emergency services
  • Only those staff members and volunteers involved in assisting the client or providing quality assurance and administrative processes that require access to personal information should access that person’s information. However, client information may also be accessed for the purposes of gathering statistics, which will be provided to CLWHV’s principal funding agency (the Ministry of Justice), for producing reports or other publications; audit requirements; resolution of complaint/incident investigations; review purposes; and for legal education.
  • Confidential client information may only be disclosed to a third party with the client’s informed consent.
  • CLWHV will also ensure client and consumer confidentiality in the course of research it conducts or publications and legal information it produces, for the purposes of community development, legal education and law reform.
  • Staff and volunteers shall not at any time or for any reason — whether during or after their employment with CLWHV — use or disclose to any person any confidential information relating to the work of CLWHV, its stakeholders, employees, volunteers or clients, except as so far as may be reasonably necessary to enable the employee and employers to fulfill their obligations and exercise their rights under their employment agreement.

Te Tukanga – Procedure

  • Prior to beginning work at CLWHV, all staff and volunteers must read the privacy policy and sign a Privacy Statement.
  • At their induction with CLWHV, all volunteers are to receive training around privacy issues.
  • All CLWHV staff and volunteers will observe good day-to-day privacy practices to ensure the security of the information it holds and to reasonably safeguard against its loss, misuse or disclosure. These include but are in no way limited to:
    • picking up printing from the photocopier promptly;
    • that any confidential information on desks is covered or desks kept clear so any clients entering offices cannot see confidential information;
    • ensuring that client material is not left out where others can see it;
    • not discussing clients in public areas such as reception, hall ways;
    • shredding or throwing into the secured green bins any correspondence or other documentation containing client information that is to be discarded;
    • using passwords to ensure computer and email security, and setting computer screens to “sleep” or locking computers when unattended;
    • using the “Bcc” or undisclosed recipient function when sending external group emails;
    • double-checking fax numbers and email address before sending faxes or emails;
    • not leaving messages with confidential information for clients on answering machines or voicemail;
    • before giving new people access to the ‘project’ login (or any other login with access to the s-drive), ensure they have signed a privacy statement.

Keeping clients informed:

  • CLWHV will ensure that all clients are informed of their rights regarding privacy and confidentiality. This information will be contained on all client interview sheets. All forms which collect information on individuals are to contain a privacy statement declaring their purpose, for example:
    • All personal information collected by CLWHV is confidential and will only be used to assist clients with their issues.
    • Statistical information is provided to CLWHV’s principal funders, to create reports on CLWHV’s services and to identify and determine whether the unmet legal needs of the community are being met.
    • These statistics will not disclose any identifying information.

Privacy Act request:

  • CLWHV will ensure privacy act requests are complied with and the privacy of other individuals is protected. In order to do this all privacy act requests should be checked by the privacy officer before files or other information is provided to clients. Administrative procedures:
    • The CLWHV privacy officer will be the first point of contact for any issues, privacy act requests or complaints that arise regarding questions of privacy and confidentiality. The holder of the Privacy Portfolio will automatically be assigned the position of Privacy Officer.
    • The CLWHV Retention of Files Policy sets out the manner in which client, employee and volunteer files (including electronic files) shall be stored and the timeframe for their destruction.

Consequences of breaches:

  • Breaches of this policy, particularly in relation to the security of information or the inappropriate use of information, may be subject to disciplinary action which may result in termination of employment or ability to volunteer.

Approved: May 2009
Last Reviewed: June 2015
Next Review Date: June 2017