Privacy Commissioner’s BYOD Guidelines

OPC BYOD GuidelinesI’ve written several posts about BYOD in the past, and continue to believe that for many workplaces, BYOD will be difficult if not impossible to resist. However, it won’t be news to anyone that BYOD raises a full array of privacy and security issues related to the potential blurring and blending of employee personal information and business/customer information on devices.

Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, along with the Alberta and British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioners, have published guidelines to assist organizations considering or implementing BYOD policies.

While the publication does not introduce anything overly novel, it does provide a good roadmap in one document, a roadmap with quite a bit of weight if you are trying to prove your organization did its due diligence around implementing a prudent BYOD program.

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Alert! Blue-Flu Hits Canada

Blue_jayBlue Jays-itis, Blue Jay Fever, the Blue Flu…whatever you call it some sort of strange illness has taken over Canadian workplaces with employees calling in sick, skipping out early or hunched secretively over their computers all in the name of baseball.

I have discussed the issue of sports and impacts on workplace productivity before. With all the excitement, and games taking place during work hours, it seems timely to re-visit the topic.

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Voting Laws for Canadian Employees

While Canadian readers are no doubt aware that we have a federal election coming up, for those who might not be following Canadian politics, a federal election has been called and voting will take place on Monday October 19, 2015.

Fun Facts for American readers

  • Canada is a different country than the United States of America, and we can elect our very own leaders;Harper in front of Parliament
  • Steven Harper is Canada’s current Prime Minister, the Canadian less charismatic equivalent of the current US President.  He has held his office since 2006 and is now running for his fourth term.  Refer to the attached picture of Mr. Harper standing in front of our Legislature;
  • Yes, the guy running for the Liberal Party is the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, not that we have any sort of monarchical tendencies in Canada;
  • Unlike in the US, in Canada there is no limit on the consecutive number of terms a leader can hold the top job.  A political career can go on and on and on, sometimes passed down through generations.


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Privacy Law v Freedom of Expression

Privacy law in Canada continues to grapple with that delicate balance between individual privacy and freedom of expression.  The recent case Chandra v. CBC provides an interesting commentary on the quickly changing world of privacy law.

In 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized the independent privacy tort of “intrusion upon seclusion”. Prior to this the case law was unsettled with respect to whether or not one could sue for invasion of privacy as a free standing cause of action.

In the Chandra v CBC case, Chandra, a former professor at Memorial University, brought at claim against the CBC for defamation and breach of privacy. The claim arose out of a three part CBC documentary called "The Secret Life of Dr. Chandra" in which the CBC investigated and accused him for scientific fraud.  CBC defended the suit on the basis of fair comment and responsible journalism. 

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HR Posting Requirements

ESA PosterOh statutory posting requirements.  I’ve visited this bland but important topic before, such as past posts on Mandatory Workplace Postings in Ontario when there were new requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The required OHSA poster that I discussed in that post remains current and can be accessed on the Ministry of Labour’s website.

An update has occurred in the world of the Employment Standards poster. As of May 20, 2015 there are new poster requirements under the Employment Standards Act, a new version of the poster of which you can download here.

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When Can an Employer Give Working Notice?

In the wake of Target closing its Canadian doors this month, we have had some of our employer clients asking about the pros and cons of working notice.  The 17,600 employees of Target have received at least 16 weeks of notice each, but many will be expected to work all or part of those 16 weeks rather than receive a lump-sum payment.  As reported in the news, many think they are not getting any “severance” at all. 

To help clear up some of the misperceptions around working notice, here are three key points to consider:

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Cyberloafing, Time Theft or Productive Multi-Tasking?

Can an employer monitor (i.e. spy on) their employees’ online productivity (i.e. slacker, time-wasting cyberloafing)?  Today I participated in a Lancaster House session on “Cyberloafing, Cyberspying” – two sides of the same labour relations coin, but full of divergent expectations and perspectives.  I learned a ton from my fellow panelists, Dan Scott and Susan Munn, who represent unions and the government respectively, as well as the moderators, Shana French and Anne Gregory. 

The common thread throughout the program was how to work through divergent expectations of privacy in the workplace. 

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US versus Canadian Workplaces

Unlike many other areas of the law, employment and human rights law lets me dig into cultural differences, individual perceptions of reality, and some of the universal truths that unite us all.  I love that just a couple of kilometres/miles south of Toronto, and in fact, just across Lake Ontario, there are often such different expectations in the workplace. 

In the Canadian employment law bootcamps I’ve done for US employers, it is perhaps the assumption that Canadians and Americans share a relatively common culture that gives rise to the interesting reactions when differences do arise.  I’ve blogged about this before (see my FAQs for US Employers in 2011), but want to share some of my more recent observations. 

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How to Fire an Employee

Yes, this is a crummy subject, for both sides of the issue.  I have yet to meet an employer or HR person who looks forward to that awkward meeting, where they need to pull the plug.  Even amicable separations are full of potential anxiety about how to treat each other fairly, while advocating for oneself.

Here are my top 5 tips for employers who have to do the difficult deed:

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