Bloomberg Law for HR Professionals is a complete, one-stop resource, continuously updated, providing HR professionals with fast answers to a wide range of domestic and international human resources...
By Jeremy Hainsworth
July 28—A finding that Saskatchewan provincial power utility SaskPower acted within provincial privacy law to collect an employee's personal information from his work computer has implications for all Canadian organizations, the province’s privacy commissioner said July 25.
Commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski found that the employee's reasonable expectation of privacy was not violated because the company had an acceptable basis for conducting a focused investigation into the employee’s activities as part of managing a human resource issue.
Kruzeniski told Bloomberg BNA July 25 that, while the finding was under the provincial Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, private organizations have the same obligations under the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
According to Investigation Report 120-2016 released July 21, SaskPower collected an employee's personal information by conducting a forensic investigation of his work computer. The now former employee alleged that SaskPower breached his privacy by indiscriminately collecting personal information.
SaskPower rejoined that the data collection wasn't done in secret since employees saw a system access agreement on logon screens that read in part that “users have NO expectation of privacy on this system, or any other related equipment, networked device or storage.” The employer argued further that the forensic investigation initiated by its human resources department was focused on the former employee's activities only because of his failure to maintain a reasonable standard of work performance and productivity.
While non work-related information qualifies as personal information under the provincial Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, Kruzeniski said, managing human resources is a legitimate corporate activity.
Kruzeniski held that SaskPower's access agreement was too broad, however, since it failed to take into account employees genuine privacy rights and recommended that SaskPower revise the agreement by:
An employer gathering information on how an employee uses a work computer can be highly intrusive, Kruzeniski said, and should not be the first or only method an employer uses in human resources management. In addition, employers must have a reasonable basis for believing an employee’s computer use may be noncompliant with workplace policies and standards before initiating an investigation.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Saskatchewan HR law and regulation, see the Saskatchewan primer.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)