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Freedom of Information Act
Do you understand how freedom of information works in your workplace? Find out what the Freedom of Information Act is, and how it is applied at workA major indication of the UK Government’s commitment to transparency, the Freedom of Information Act is a bold, future-looking legislation that opens up public information, yet, keeps personal information private.The ethos of freedom of information (FOI) is clear. Ask, and the information will be provided unless there is good reason for it not to be.A responsible requester is one who provides proper information, does not waste public resources, or otherwise go against the spirit of the legislation.The burden to make information available falls on the public purse and public sector employees. The legislation, which has openness and fairness at its heart, makes clear that public authorities should proactively assist the public in accessing non-exempt information.It is clear that both the public and private sector have been significantly affected by obligations imposed by theFreedom of Information Act. Therefore it is essential for both sectors to implement policies and training and raise awareness within their organisations to deal with the impact of the Act on their own spheres of operation.Once you’ve taken the course, you may be surprised at the type of information that can make its way into the public domain.Key InsightsFOI Act explained – The Freedom of Information Act came into effect in 2000, making the UK one of approximately ninety countries to enact such legislation to date.Who it applies to – Freedom of information legislation obliges UK public authorities to disclose information and, amazingly, there are over 100,000 of them.The founding principles of FOI – Disclosure of information should be the default – in other words, information should be kept private only for good reason and when it is permitted by the Act.How is information made available to people? – Requesters can ask to receive the information in various formats.The types of information covered by FOI – Absolute exemptions are those which are not subject to a public-interest-evaluation. Qualified Exemptions are those which require testing by the public authority.How the FOI Act affects your organisation – Public authorities are obliged by the Act to publish certain information.How should your organisation respond to requests?Complaints – If refused or otherwise dissatisfied, a requester can complain to the public authority and if necessaryask it to conduct an internal review, doing so within two months of the authority’s response.