The Province has made it possible for employees and volunteers
to rely on a single criminal record check for a five year period
with multiple employers, yet an employer's right to require a
criminal record check in every case is preserved.
The Province has made some important amendments to the
Criminal Records Review Act (the
"Act"), directed mostly at employees and
volunteers who work with children or vulnerable adults but which
could also impact employers. The Criminal Records Review
Amendment Act (the "CRRAA") came into force
on November 30, 2013, and includes these changes that will be of
interest to some employers:
volunteers of "specified organizations" providing
services to children or vulnerable adults (including government
agencies, municipalities, school boards and non-profit
organizations, among others) are no longer required to pay fees for
criminal record checks (while the fee for regular employees has
increased from $20 to $28);
if a volunteer, employee, or applicant has had a criminal
record check conducted within the last five years and no risk was
identified (known as a "portable criminal record check"),
he or she may simply provide a "criminal record check
verification authorization" to specified organizations or
employers and specified organizations are permitted to require
a criminal record check, even if the individual could simply
authorize a criminal record check verification.
What this means for employers
Specified organizations and private employers should benefit
from an easier process for volunteers and employees with portable
criminal record checks.
Most importantly, although the amendments make it easier for
volunteers and employees to use a single portable criminal record
check for five years, the CRRAA maintains employers'
and specified organizations' entitlement under the
Act to require applicants to undergo a criminal
record check, regardless of whether the individual has a portable
criminal record check.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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