So, where is your electronic monitoring policy, given that October 11 is around the corner?
By now, you would have read the numerous articles highlighting the deficiencies in electronic monitoring requirements in legislated changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the paucity of legislated or governmental guidance. Meanwhile, October 11, the date for compliance with the ESA requirements, is almost here.
Two themes are noticeable in many of the recent articles. First, few suggest resources or solutions to address the dearth of detailed guidance. Second, there is perhaps a disproportionate focus on the immediate ESA requirements and little on the numerous other aspects of human resources and safe, effective, and efficient operations, which electronic monitoring engages.
First Reference offers solutions in the form of a whitepaper and two policies that address, in detail, issues that are critical to employers and for which there is otherwise little or no guidance or attention.
But, acknowledging that everyone is busy, you can ignore the whitepaper and policies if all of the following apply:
- You fully understand the definition of electronic monitoring and know for sure whether or not you electronically monitor employees. You must implement an electronic monitoring policy if you have 25 or more employees. In that policy, you either declare that you do not monitor employees electronically or include the ESA-required information about your electronic monitoring program. Before you declare that you do not monitor employees electronically, be sure. First Refence policies help you to consider time and productivity tracking software, the systems and network security tools your IT department uses, and the numerous other ways to track employee and user activities. Before you decide to monitor, use the checklist containing about 20 alternatives that are less intrusive and possibly less costly than some of the monitoring that you may be considering.
- You know 5 practical applications for electronic monitoring (not counting CCTV, GPS tracking, or recording calls). First Reference policies include a checklist with about 22 categories of practical applications to consider. The policies answer questions that many employers have. How do other employers monitor electronically? How could I use electronic monitoring to make my employees safer, improve efficiency, give me insight for workforce and people analytics, provide data for budgeting and forecasting, track where my assets are, and make talent acquisition easier?
- You know 3 or 4 software solutions to help you improve your existing electronic monitoring program or introduce new tools. First Reference policies include a checklist with more than 15 electronic monitoring software and web addresses that you can consider as a starting point as you explore software. There is an additional checklist to help you evaluate software vendors and solutions.
- You fully understand the privacy implications and your actual or potential obligations under privacy laws. First Reference policies include checklists and guidance that will help you to comply with privacy laws and best practices. Checklists address privacy impact assessments and other matters.
- You are sure about the ways to preserve good relationships with your employees in the face of electronic monitoring. There is no sugarcoating the reality that many employees are not receptive to being monitored. Depending on how you implement electronic monitoring, you can either make it more palatable for employees, or you can tick them off and make them hate you (the manager), the organization, the fact of being monitored, and, ultimately, their job in general. Consequently, First Reference policies cover essential human resources aspects of electronic monitoring. Learn about keylogging or keystroke logging, covert monitoring, webcam monitoring, and other specific types of tracking that employees abhor. Learn how to get the union on your side and assure employees that you are doing everything you can to avoid monitoring their private communications that have nothing to do with their work or performance. Demonstrate that you have thought carefully about the monitoring solutions you chose because there are procedures for evaluating and documenting your evaluation process. Use checklists and other resources to confirm that you have made electronic monitoring as un-intrusive as possible and prove that you have considered less-intrusive alternatives to electronic monitoring.
- You are fully conversant with jargon and technologies related to electronic monitoring. First Reference policies cover geofencing, geolocation, radio frequency identification (RFID), wearables, biometric monitoring, and much more. There is coverage of information that may not be readily apparent—did you know that you can monitor employees’ typing speeds and patterns and mouse patterns and that this may be personally identifying information for privacy purposes?
- You have a handy and comprehensive checklist of the key ESA requirements to evaluate whether your policy is complete. First Reference resources include a comprehensive checklist (far more comprehensive than the one you may have seen in the ministry’s guide to the ESA) with essential ESA requirements to ensure that your policy and practices comply with the statute.
Meeting your duty of care: If you monitor employees electronically, implement an electronic monitoring policy even if under the ESA there is no need to implement one. A reasonable and balanced approach based on transparency and respect for employees’ privacy is an excellent place to start. First Reference’s Human Resources PolicyPro Ontario Edition and Information Technology PolicyPro include electronic monitoring policies, each with an HR or IT focus. Download the accompanying whitepaper as well.
Policies and procedures are essential, but the work required to create and maintain them can seem daunting. Finance and Accounting PolicyPro, Not-for-Profit PolicyPro, and Information Technology PolicyPro, co-marketed by First Reference and Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada), contain sample policies, procedures, checklists and other tools, plus authoritative commentary to save you time and effort in establishing and updating your internal controls and policies. Not a subscriber? Request free 30–day trials of Finance and Accounting PolicyPro, Not-for-Profit PolicyPro, and Information Technology PolicyPro, here.