A list of property left behind in the country’s numerous Travelodge hotels may not be an obvious concern for HR professionals, but in the year that GDPR became a buzzword for bureaucracy lessons must be learned.

Although some items may draw headlines - a cockatoo called Brexit, a replica royal wedding dress - what may seem like tawdry items should cause the most concern for businesses. The hotel operator has identified a rise in the number of business documents being left behind. In spite of increased awareness around data privacy and GDPR, it is physical as well as digital data that demands protection.

Certainly not exhaustive, the list of forgotten documents includes a complete set of company accounts, designs for a new product launch, and a year’s worth of tax returns. This might be forgivable if they related only to the individual responsible, but even an optimist would agree the chances of that are slim.

We all make mistakes and are occasionally forgetful, but employers are responsible for their employees’ mistakes. More than that, under GDPR, financial liability can be in the millions.

Having a good, workable policy in place is essential, of course, but training and regular reminders can go a long way in raising awareness amongst staff and reducing risk to the business.

A new year is an ideal time to review your current position, refresh policies and remind employees of their duties and responsibilities.

If you have any concerns about policies or dealing with employee issues, please contact me at kevin.poulter@freeths.co.uk.