Upcoming Ontario Requirement: Policy on Electronic Monitoring of Employees

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Bill 88, also known as the Working for Workers Act, 2022 is currently being considered by the Ontario Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Policy. As such, the final content of the bill remains to be decided. It is clear, however, that the Ontario Parliament intends to adopt measures to require employers to inform employees about electronic monitoring. We break down the electronic monitoring portion of the bill and the requirements as they stand as of the date of writing of this post.

Policy Requirements

According to Bill 88, any employer that employs more than 25 employees on January 1 of any calendar year must, by March 1 of that same year, adopt a policy with respect to monitoring of employees. The policy must be in writing and must include the following:

  • A statement on whether the employer electronically monitors its employees.
  • If an employer does electronically monitor employees, then the policy must describe how and in what circumstances the employer monitors employees and the purpose to which information obtained through electronic monitoring will be put.
  • The date on which the policy was prepared.

The policy must be provided to each employee within 30 days from when the employer’s obligation to have the policy commences or where the employer makes changes to the policy. Any new employee must be provided a copy of the policy within 30 days of his or her start date, or within 30 days of the employer’s requirement to have the policy in place (whichever is later).

Practical Matters

Bill 88 does not prohibit electronic monitoring in the workplace. The intent of the bill is to disclose electronic monitoring to employees. Ontario, unlike Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec, currently does not have specific legislation applying to employee privacy in Ontario. Instead, employees are protected through the common law, which does not provide the same level of privacy protection as legislated requirements elsewhere.

The details remain scant, but the Ontario government is clearly interested in putting in place at least some measures to inform employees about employer electronic monitoring. The practical effect is that any employer with 25 or more employees will need to consider and evaluate their monitoring practices going forward.

Employers should review their current electronic monitoring practices and consider whether disclosure is required. That involves reviewing any sort of electronic monitoring of employees, whether that includes tracking GPS information in vehicles; software that tracks computer usage or computer activity; email monitoring; key logging; video surveillance; or other electronic monitoring activities. This is an ideal opportunity for companies to review their electronic monitoring practices to ensure they are appropriate and serving their purpose going forward.

Note, however, that this legislation has not yet passed and is not yet in force. Stay tuned for updates.

We at Bridge Legal & HR Solutions are more than happy to assist you with any of your employment needs, including with employee electronic monitoring policies. If you have any questions about employment law, human rights, workplace investigations, human resources, or immigration law. Contact Bridge Legal & HR Solutions at 647-794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca, we are here to bridge the gaps for you.

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