British Columbia Privacy Commissioner calling for changes to employee criminal record checks
On July 25, 2012, British Columbia’s Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham published an investigation report recommending changes to the B.C. government’s use of criminal record checks to assess current and future employees.
This report comes after the March 2011 announcement that the Commissioner intended to look into the practice of employment-related record checks because of the disturbing trend that more and more employers require employee background checks to reduce the risk of liability for subsequent actions of employees.
She decided to concentrate on the B.C. government because, 1) it is the province’s largest employer, and, 2) they recently expanded their security screening policy and the number of criminal records checks it requests from current and prospective employees.
The Commissioner found that the current policy of the Government of British Columbia with respect to criminal record checks contravenes the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). It fails to achieve the balance required between its business needs as an employer and the privacy rights of employees.
The Commissioner summarized her findings and recommendations as follows:
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