Canada: B.C. Commissioner Addresses Employer Monitoring Of Corporate Vehicle Use

Last Updated: March 15 2013
Article by Deanna Brummitt


The British Columbia Information & Privacy Commissioner has recently released her decision in Schindler Elevator Corporation 2012 BCIPC No. 25 ("Schindler").

In Schindler, the Commissioner considered the application of the B.C. Personal Information Protection Act ("PIPA") to an employer's use of a GPS-enabled data collection system used to monitor vehicles owned by the organization and operated by its employees, including the Complainant. The case has implications for employers who plan to use, or who are currently using GPS or similar technologies to monitor employees while they use corporate vehicles as part of their work.

The Facts in Schindler

The Complainant was a maintenance and repair mechanic who, during the course of his employment, travelled to various customer sites to perform repair and maintenance work on elevators and escalators. He was the Complainant in both his personal and representative capacity on behalf of a number of fellow maintenance and repair mechanics employed by Schindler. The employer maintained a fleet of vehicles that it assigned to its mechanics to use in performing off-site maintenance and repair work. The employer began using a GPS and engine monitoring system on its vehicles called "Fleet Complete". The system collected a variety of information about the vehicle use such as distance travelled, speed, incidents of harsh accelerating or braking, idling time, when the vehicle was turned on and off and location of the vehicle. There were thus two types of information gathered by Fleet Complete: GPS data about the location of the vehicle and engine status data about the operation of the vehicle.

The employer put forward several justifications for employing Fleet Complete, specifically, the technology allowed the employer to dispatch more efficiently, schedule vehicle maintenance more efficiently, identify and address unsafe driving habits, track employee time at job sites, help locate employees who were unaccounted for and locate lost or stolen vehicles.

The employer had a "Vehicle Global Positioning System (GPS) Policy" which stated that GPS data would be used to reduce instances of unsafe driving and to ensure employees were reporting to job sites on time. The Policy was introduced prior to Fleet Complete being implemented.

The Complainant argued that the information collected was information about the movements, location and driving habits of identifiable employees and was thus "personal information" within the meaning of PIPA. The Complainant alleged that the employer's collection and use of this "personal information" was not reasonable.

The Decision

The Commissioner found that the information collected constituted employee personal information, but that its collection and use was reasonable for the purposes of establishing, managing or terminating an employment relationship. In reaching this conclusion, the Commissioner rejected the arguments made by the employer that the information in issue was not "personal information" and was instead more in the nature of work product or contact information.

Employee personal information is defined in section 1 of PIPA as follows:

Means personal information about an individual that is collected, used or disclosed solely for the purposes reasonably required to establish, manage or terminate an employment relationship between the organization and that individual, but does not include personal information that is not about an individual's employment

The Commissioner determined that the information was about the employees and was collected and used solely for purposes reasonably required to establish, manage or terminate the employment relationship because there was a legitimate business purpose for using the information such as ensuring employees met employer standards.

Employee personal information is subject to specific collection use and disclosure requirements under PIPA; specifically, employee personal information may be collected, used and disclosed by an organization where it can be shown to be reasonable for the purposes of establishing, managing or terminating the employment relationship and where sufficient prior notice has been given to affected employees. The Commissioner considered a number of factors in her analysis: the sensitivity of the information, how much employee personal information was collected and the likelihood the information would be effective in achieving the objectives set out by the employer. In discussing these factors the Commissioner made several comments of note:

  • The Commissioner explicitly rejected the approach advocated by the Complainant that the least privacy intrusive alternative must be followed regardless of reasonableness or cost. The Commissioner held that the employer need only show that it gave alternative measures reasonable consideration;
  • The employer does not have to show that the information will be necessarily effective in achieving the stated purpose to a measure of certainty; only that there is a reasonable likelihood of effectiveness;
  • Covert surveillance of employees such as monitoring e-mail or computer use will likely result in the collection of more sensitive information which will normally tend to weigh against a finding that the collection and use are reasonable.

In applying the relevant factors, the Commissioner determined that the information collected via Fleet Complete was not overly sensitive given that it was related to the employees' geographic location while they were working, as opposed to information in which the employee would have a higher expectation of privacy (such as health information, information about marital status or computer keystroke data). Further, information about the engine status of the employer's vehicles was not overly sensitive. The Commissioner was also convinced that the information was reasonably effective in ensuring that employees drove safely, lawfully and in accordance with the employer's policies and that the employees actually worked the hours they were being paid to work.

Lessons from Schindler

It is clear from Schindler that an employer's monitoring of the use of its business assets by employees will usually be considered a collection and use of "employee personal information" (at least by the B.C. Commissioner1 ) and thus will be protected information under PIPA. Information which only indirectly relates to information about an individual, for example, a propensity to speed while driving, is nonetheless captured by the definition of "employee personal information" under B.C. PIPA. Employers using GPS and other electronic monitoring equipment should be careful to ensure that the information being captured relates only to the employment relationship and does not inadvertently capture more private information about employees such as locations visited on personal time (assuming employees are allowed to use corporate vehicles for some personal use, such as meal breaks).

Further, in Schindler, the Commissioner emphasized the importance of the fact that the employer was not routinely and continuously monitoring the GPS and engine status data in her analysis of the reasonableness of the collection and use. In Schindler, the employer had programed Fleet Complete to generate "exception reports" which summarized any occasion where a rule or policy appeared to have been broken (such as where a vehicle accelerated beyond a certain speed or braked harshly). There was no constant monitoring of the data generated by Fleet Complete by management to look for possible problems. Employers should consider Schindler carefully before employing a more privacy-invasive use of these or similar technologies as this could be considered unreasonable and therefore contrary to PIPA or other applicable privacy legislation.

Finally, Schindler highlights the fact that where an organization is collecting, using or disclosing employee personal information, PIPA requires that the employees be given prior notification that the organization is engaging in these practices (this is often best achieved through an appropriate policy which has been provided to employees prior to the introduction of the technology).

Members of Davis LLP's Privacy Law Compliance Group are experienced in drafting such policies and would be pleased to assist your organization in this process, if needed.

1 See Otis Canada Inc., v. International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 1, [2010] B.C. C.A.A.A. No. 121 where the Arbitrator reached a different conclusion.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions