Under the code, which is still in its "final draft" stage, employees will be able to request access, for a fee of £10, to virtually any record that mentions them, including confidential e-mails. This will include e-mail logs and information held in general personnel files such as sickness records and appraisal notes.
A Confederation of British Industry (CBI) spokesman said, "Employers will be able to cope with this as long as it is used with common sense. It would be damaging if it were used for 'fishing trips' with employees trawling through information trying to find a problem." The £10 charge would not always cover costs, he added.
The code, which offers guidance on complying with the Data Protection Act, will be issued in four sections, after a short consultation period in March.