The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) is legislation that promotes transparency and accountability by granting individuals the right to access information held by public and private bodies. Private bodies, including businesses and organizations, have specific obligations under PAIA, and recent updates have introduced new compliance requirements and deadlines. This article will focus on the deadline for website compliance by 26 October 2023 and the Compliance Notice in terms of Section 83(3)(d) of PAIA.
PAIA Compliance for Private Bodies:
Private bodies are required to publish a PAIA Manual on their website and make it available at their offices. This manual should provide information on how to request access to records, the fees associated with such requests, and the dispute resolution process. In terms of a Government Gazette published on 30 June 2021, the exemption for private bodies is coming to an end on 31 December 2021, and as of 01 January 2022, ALL private bodies MUST have a PAIA Manual published on their website and available at their offices.
Deadline for Website Compliance by 26 October 2023
Entities must update their websites with the new forms within a strict 14-day deadline, which ends on 26 October 2023. This deadline is crucial for private bodies to ensure consistency and compliance with the latest PAIA requirements. Failure to meet this deadline may result in non-compliance and potential assessments by the Information Regulator.
Compliance Notice in terms of Section 83(3)(d) of PAIA
Section 83(3)(d) of PAIA requires the head of a private body to submit a PAIA section 83(4) report (PAIA report) to the Information Regulator according to a notice.
This report should provide details on the private body’s compliance with PAIA, including the number of requests received, the number of requests granted, and the number of requests refused, among other relevant information.
Steps to Ensure PAIA Compliance and Website Readiness
To ensure PAIA compliance and website readiness by the 26 October 2023 deadline, private bodies can follow these steps:
- Review and update your PAIA Manual:
Ensure that your PAIA Manual is comprehensive, up-to-date, and includes all the necessary information required by PAIA. This includes details on how to request access to records, the fees associated with such requests, and the dispute resolution process.
- Publish your PAIA Manual on your website:
Make sure that your PAIA Manual is easily accessible on your website, allowing individuals to review and understand their rights and obligations under PAIA.
- Make your PAIA Manual available at your offices:
In addition to publishing your PAIA Manual on your website, you must also have a physical copy available at your offices for individuals who prefer to access the information in person.
- Train your staff on PAIA compliance:
Ensure that your staff members are aware of their responsibilities under PAIA and understand how to handle requests for access to records. This will help streamline the process and ensure that your organization is able to respond to requests in a timely and efficient manner.
- Monitor and update your PAIA compliance:
PAIA is a dynamic and evolving piece of legislation, and it is important to stay up-to-date with any changes or updates that may affect your compliance obligations. Regularly review your PAIA Manual and website to ensure that they remain accurate and in line with the latest requirements.
Private bodies should ensure that they have a comprehensive understanding of their obligations under PAIA and take the necessary steps to comply with the deadline for website compliance by 26 October 2023. This includes updating their websites with the new forms and publishing a PAIA Manual that provides clear and accessible information on how to request access to records, the fees associated with such requests, and the dispute resolution process. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in assessments by the Information Regulator and potential penalties for non-compliance.