The Application of POPI in TES-Client Relationships: Protecting Personal Information


In the digital era, the protection of personal information has become a crucial aspect of maintaining privacy and ensuring data security. The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) sets out principles and regulations to safeguard personal information. This article explores the application of the POPI Act in the context of Temporary Employment Services (TES) and their relationships with clients. Specifically, it focuses on the need for technical and operational safeguards, the role of TES as an “Operator,” and the importance of written agreements and consents.

Technical and Operational Safeguards for Data Integrity

The POPI Act mandates that the Responsible Party, which in this case is the TES, must implement technical and operational measures to ensure the integrity and protection of data subject information. As TES and their Clients process vast amounts of personal information from job applicants and assignees placed with clients, it is crucial to have robust safeguards in place.

Technical safeguards may include encryption, firewalls, access controls, and secure storage mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access, loss, or alteration of personal information. Operational safeguards involve establishing policies, procedures, and training programs to ensure compliance with data protection principles, as well as conducting regular audits and risk assessments.

TES as an Operator

The relationship between TES and their Clients can be categorized as that of an “Operator” under the POPI Act. An Operator is defined as a person or entity who processes personal information on behalf of a Responsible Party. In this case, TES acts as an intermediary between job applicants/assignees and clients, processing personal information on behalf of the clients.

According to the POPI Act, when a Responsible Party appoints an Operator, a written Operator agreement must be concluded. This agreement outlines the responsibilities and obligations of both parties regarding the processing of personal information. The agreement should address aspects such as the purpose of processing, security measures, confidentiality, and the rights and obligations of the parties involved.

POPI Agreements and Consent from TES Assignees

To further ensure compliance with the POPI Act, TES assignees must sign POPI agreements that authorize the TES to process their personal information for the purpose of engaging in transactions with clients. These agreements should clearly outline the types of personal information collected, the purpose of processing, the rights of the assignees, and the measures taken to protect their information.

By obtaining explicit consent from assignees, TES ensures that they are aware of the processing of their personal information and have given their informed consent. This empowers individuals to exercise their rights, such as the right to access, rectify, or delete their personal information.


Compliance with the POPI Act is essential for TES and their Clients to protect personal information and maintain trust in their relationships. The implementation of technical and operational safeguards is crucial to ensure the integrity and security of data subject information. As an Operator, TES must enter into written agreements with clients, clearly defining their responsibilities and obligations. Furthermore, obtaining consent from TES assignees through POPI agreements enables transparency and empowers individuals to exercise their data protection rights.

By proactively adhering to the principles outlined in the POPI Act, TES and their Clients can establish a solid foundation for data protection, build trust with their stakeholders, and ensure the privacy and security of personal information in their operations.