Where an unsuccessful job applicant asks for details of why he or she was not offered the job is the employer obliged to disclose those details?

There is no duty in law for an employer to inform an unsuccessful job applicant why he or she was not selected for the post applied for, even if the applicant makes such a request. Many employers do, however, provide feedback on this in order to be helpful.

Job applicants do, however, have the right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to submit a written request for access to any information held about them by the employer, provided that the information is recorded either in a structured manual file or on computer. This is known as a subject access request. On receipt of a valid subject access request, the employer must comply with it within 40 calendar days, which in effect means giving the applicant a copy of all the documents held about him or her in the file (with the exception of documents that, if disclosed, would reveal personal information about another person). It follows that if there is written documentation about the reason for not offering the individual the job on file a copy of that document would have to be disclosed to the individual. There is, however, no duty under the Data Protection Act 1998 to disclose information that is not recorded, ie there is no duty to create documents for that purpose.