On July 25, 2012 the British Columbia Information and Privacy
Commissioner released an investigation report regarding the use of
employment related criminal record checks by the Government of
British Columbia. The Commissioner concluded that the
Government's current policy with respect to criminal records
checks contravenes the Freedom of Information and Protect of
Privacy Act as, among other things, it fails to achieve the
balance required between the government's business needs as an
employer and the privacy rights of employees. She made a number of
recommendations and concluded by expressing her concern about the
societal trend towards increased employment related criminal record
checks without clear evidence as to their benefit.
The Commissioner noted that a growing number of employers are
using criminal record checks and police information checks as
employment screening tools, and that such checks are highly privacy
invasive. She indicated that in her view, there should be a nexus
between job requirements, duties and the proposed record check and,
where record checks are used, controls must be in place to minimize
the privacy implications for affected individuals.
The report contains an appendix listing Best Practices for
Public Sector Record Checks. While the legal framework of this
investigation occurred in the context of the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which applies only
to "public bodies" in British Columbia, the best
practices listed provide a good reference point for all employers
considering their privacy practices and obligations. The
Commissioner indicated that her office will be releasing best
practice for private sector record checks at a future date and we
will keep you posted.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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