An increase in remote work across Canada has led to new and important discussions on employee rights and protections. Some federal lawmakers have raised discussions on how to protect worker privacy when they are working from home. This is a concern for British Columbia workers and employers alike.
Some of the issues under discussion at a federal level include common technologies and tactics used by employers that could cross the line in terms of privacy and surveillance, such as:
- Desktop keyboard monitoring programs
- Webcam surveillance, including facial recognition programs that claim to ascertain a worker’s focus
- GPS and location monitoring
Currently, the laws governing intrusive surveillance are not part of employment-specific legislation. Rather, these measures are enshrined in human rights legislation like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the Privacy Act and provincial protections. However, some workers and advocates feel this patchwork is lacking when it comes to the new reality of remote work, and that laws need to be more specific to address modern concerns.
A bill has been tabled in the past that included a tribunal on privacy concerns and other modernization, but it was not passed before the election. Although a similar bill has not yet been introduced, many lawmakers acknowledge the importance of this issue given the high number of remote workers across the country. In fact, Statistics Canada reported that in Dec. 2021, nearly 24% of the workforce across the country was working from home primarily. British Columbia employment lawyers will certainly stay abreast of this evolving discussion, and they can provide invaluable insight on how existing protections may be utilized by employees with privacy concerns.