If you run a beautician business, you will often find yourself collecting and storing personal information about your clients, like their allergies and prior health conditions. Here, you may have legal obligations on how to handle this personal information. By understanding these obligations, you will avoid breaching laws and facing penalties of up to $420,000. This article explains when you will need to comply with Australian privacy law for your beautician business.

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act aims to protect individuals’ personal information and sets out how a business collects, stores and discloses personal information. Examples of personal information about clients that you might have include your clients’:

  • names;
  • addresses; 
  • emails;
  • dates of birth; and
  • medical history.

Do I Need to Comply With the Privacy Act?

Most organisations that collect personal information must comply with the Act. However, a small business whose annual turnover is $3 million or less does not need to comply with the Privacy Act. However, a few important exceptions where you will still need to comply with the Act are if you:

A health service provider is someone who intends to 

  • assess;
  • maintain; 
  • improve;
  • diagnose; 
  • manage;
  • treat; or 
  • record an individual’s health. 

Relevantly, you also provide a health service if you claim that the activity will have any such results. 

For example, if you claim on advertisements that an intensive facial will improve the health of a client, your beautician business will likely be a health service provider under the Privacy Act  

What Are My Obligations Under the Privacy Act?

The Act sets out a number of key principles or guidelines that you must comply with called the Australian Privacy Principles (or APPs).

Some of the APPs make a distinction between personal information and sensitive information. Relevantly for beauticians, sensitive information includes health information about an individual. You may request that your clients complete a questionnaire before some treatments. Under the Act, you may have collected sensitive information if the questionnaire asked about:

  • allergies; 
  • pregnancy; 
  • breastfeeding; 
  • overall health; 
  • diseases; or
  • blood pressure.

Below we set out key APPs and examples specifically relevant for beauticians.

Collection

You can only collect personal information if it is reasonably necessary for your activities. 

For example, some more invasive treatments may require you to know about prior health conditions, like cosmetic tattooing. In comparison, for other activities, like makeup, such information is not relevant. Here, you should avoid collecting personal information.

Transparency 

You must have a clear, easy to read and updated privacy policy which sets out how you deal with your clients’ personal information. You can make the policy available on your website, and at your front desk, so it is easily accessible to your clients.

Use of Personal Information

You can only use the information you collect for the purpose that you collected it.

For example, if you collect someone’s name and address to create a new client file for a treatment, you cannot then use it for marketing or disclosing it to a third party. If you would like to use it for another purpose, you must ask for prior consent from your client.

Key Takeaways

Protecting your clients’ personal information creates more trustworthiness for your beautician business. You may also have a legal obligation to comply with the Privacy Act if you claim that treatments improve the client’s health, and if your annual turnover is over $3 million. Either way, the Privacy Act sets out principles you should comply with, including:

  • only collecting information if necessary; 
  • only using the information for the primary purpose for which it was collected; and 
  • making sure your clients know how you handle personal information in a privacy policy.

If you need help in complying with Australian privacy law including preparing a privacy policy, contact LegalVision’s online lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.
Nathalie King

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Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at info@legalvision.com.au

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