Do you need an Access to Information Manual? What is it anyway? The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) says that larger public and private bodies need to create a ‘manual’ that contains, amongst other things:
- The postal and street address, phone and fax number and, if available, e-mail address of the head of the body.
- A description of, and how to obtain access to, a guide on how to use the Act to get information from bodies.
- What records are available to an interested party without having to request access in terms of PAIA.
- A description of the records of the body, which are available in accordance with any other legislation.
- How to request records from the body in terms of the Act.
- Various information related to the Protection of Personal Information Act.
- Such other information as may be prescribed by the Minister.
Are you exempted?
Most organisations are exempt from having to have a manual
Certain private bodies are exempted – mostly small to medium-sized entities. The exemption is extended and the thresholds changed every few years. So far it has been extended in 2006, 2012 and 2016. It is important to check the current exemption and thresholds that apply until 31 December 2020.
Actions you can take
- If you already have an Access to Information manual, make sure it is up-to-date by asking Michalsons to review it to check that it complies with the latest law.
- Update your Access to Information Manual to comply with POPIA by asking us to make the necessary changes.
- Comply with your legal obligation to have an Access to Information Manual by asking Michalsons to draft a PAIA Manual for you.
What must you do with your Access to Information Manual?
Your manual needs to be available on your website (if it has one) and you must submit it to the South African Human Rights Council. You can either submit it electronically to [email protected] or post it to them.
Why do it?
It is a criminal offence not to submit an Access to Information manual if you are required to do so, and you could face some hefty fines if you do not comply. Currently, the SAHRC is not issuing fines for non-compliance, but whether this will remain the case is unknown.