Privacy Issues That Commonly Arise At Your Workplace

Privacy Issues That Commonly Arise At Your Workplace

The workplace is a place where we all share personal information with our co-workers and employers. In some cases, this can lead to problems if it’s not handled correctly by either party – but there are many privacy rights that exist in order protect you from any potential breaches of trust. 

Governing Law

Employees have a right to privacy when it comes to their employers, but there are certain exceptions. Especially in every situation, the individual’s right to privacy will be weighed against the employer’s legitimate business needs.

The right to privacy as an employee is important for many reasons, but the most vital of which being that it protects your personal information. Specifically, it is important to know whether your business is:

1. In the private or public sector

2. Federally regulated or Provincially regulated

The government is your protector. The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms protects us all from unreasonable search-and seizure based on this idea: everyone should have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they come into contact with their community’s public services.

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”)

The Private Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a law that regulates how private businesses handle personal information. It was passed in 2000, with the goal of protecting Canadians’ valuable privacy rights when they trade their ownonomess for goods or services at companies across Canada .

Moreover, If you work for a provincially regulated private sector business in Ontario, the only legislation protecting you relates to your personal health information.The Ontario Human Rights Code protects employees from “intrusion upon seclusion” which means that even when using company provided technology, there is an expectation of privacy.

Personal Information Defined

Generally speaking the privacy legislation that covers your employment protects your “personal information”. PIPEDA defines personal information as information concerning an identifiable individual. For example: The most common types of personal information that you put out there for everyone to see are your Social Security number or address.


Given that under most privacy legislation employers will need your consent to collect, use or disclose your personal information. When the information is highly sensitive, such as health or medical information. 

The following are some examples of information for which employers generally do not require consent:


  1. Details that law enforcement has requested;
  2. Documents needed to handle compensation for workers’ compensation benefits;
  3. If the employee is managed by a third party, the third party may seek answers.
  4. Third-party insurance firms have asked for more details.

Information Collection

Employers may want to collect information for the purposes of:
  1.  administering payroll and benefit plans;
  2. complying with tax and employment standards law requirements for record-keeping and reporting;
  3. performing a credit or security check when hiring individuals for security-sensitive positions;
  4. managing the virtual workplace for off-site employees working from home; and
  5. monitoring productivity or customer interactions for “quality control.”

Whether or not a given collection method is appropriate will depend on a balance of several factors, mainly:

1) If or whether permission was granted

2) The intrusiveness of the collection

3) The purpose of the collection

By all means, any decision made on the collection of an employee’s private information will attempt to balance the interests of the employee with those of their employer.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, one of the specialist employment lawyers at Tailor Law can help you. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.

The information in this article is for general purposes only and does not constitute the rendering of legal advice or opinion. This article only provides general information. Should you require assistance, please contact us to book a free initial consultation.

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