A SCOTTISH law firm has launched an initiative to help businesses before strict new data protection laws are enforced.

Gilson Gray has created an online training programme to guide companies through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will be put in place in May.

The programme, developed with leading UK training specialists Apex Training, is the first course of its kind that is City and Guilds accredited.

Businesses and organisations must comply with the GDPR requirement to protect personal data. GDPR gives consumers greater control over the data organisations may hold. Individuals can demand to know what information is held about them, who has been passed it and for what purpose the information is used.

Breaches can lead to a significant fine – either a maximum of €20million or four per cent of global turnover. It is also feared it could also lead to huge number of individuals making claims for compensation for breach of privacy.

Derek Hamill, head of corporate law at Gilson Gray, said that although the deadline for compliance is looming, many businesses are unsure of what they need to do – or how to do it.

He said: “GDPR will affect every customer-facing organisation, yet the majority are unaware of the legislation with just a few months to the deadline for its introduction.

“No one should believe this is only of concern to big businesses. Virtually everyone – such as care homes, marketing firms and even hairdressers – holds data and so need to comply.

“GDPR raises the privacy bar. Organisations must be able to locate the personal date they use, understand its purpose and appropriately secure it — no matter where the data is stored or how it is shared. And they need to be sure they have consent when they use that data.

“This is not an IT problem. It is a cultural issue.

“While there is a need for urgent action at senior level, it is also important that staff at businesses and organisations know their responsibilities.

“Our GDPR training package provides a tool to give employees knowledge and understanding to comply with the new legislation.”