As from 31 December 2021, every private business, be it a company, close corporation, trust, partnership or sole proprietor, will have to compile and make available a ‘PAIA Manual’.
Many new and existing businesses don’t know where or how to go about complying with this requirement, nor do they understand the rationale behind having a manual or how to go about creating one easily, and without breaking the bank.
Here’s what you need to know.
The ins and outs of PAIA
The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) became effective in 2001. In terms of Section 51 of the Act, the head of every private body is required to compile and make available a manual which must contain certain disclosures.
These disclosures relate to the types of records kept by the business and various disclosures that relate to the processing of personal information.
Since 2001, the deadline for the PAIA manual requirement for private bodies has been extended at regular five-year intervals. In June 2021 the Minister for Justice and Correctional Services announced a final six-month extension for all private bodies – other than private companies with more than 50 employees.
The full list of non-exempt companies is accessible via the official government website.
The manual must then be displayed on the business website, if one exists, and must also be available in hard-copy format at the place of business.
A step-by-step approach to PAIA compliance
For many small- and medium-sized businesses knowing where to start and how to create a PAIA manual is a source of some concern; which is one reason why many businesses have simply put off completing the process.
However, a seamless online process via the https://www.accesstoinfo.co.za/ website provides a quick and cost-effective way to ensure compliance.
AccessToInfo has been up and running since 2005 and offers a fully-automated manual creation process which takes just 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish.
The website facilities make the creation of the manual simple and effective by coding the requirements and automating the compilation process.
The process is underpinned by sufficient legal knowledge to guide the common compliance requirements around PAIA. In more complex situations it is suggested that businesses speak to an attorney for a legal opinion and guidance.
Users simply register on the website to get started. A simple step-by-step process then guides the user through a range of options.
Users select those options that apply to their business. Provision is also made for business owners to add their own additional information if a suitable option has not been provided.
On completion of client input, a manual is produced. The cost of the service is a once-off fee of R399.
On payment of the fee, a manual in PDF format is immediately emailed to the user. The manual remains available for download by the business at all times.
Users may, at any time in the future, log in and produce an amended manual should any details change. All future changes and updates are free of charge.
How safe is my information?
Given the current surge of focus which these two Acts have brought around the protection and access to information, it is important to note that using the AccessToInfo site comes with its own guarantees of privacy for all users.