Do you ever get a feeling that you’re being watched, tracked or otherwise monitored while you’re working online? If you’re working for a company in Ontario, in many instances, a new policy means that your company will now have to tell you if they’re electronically monitoring your activities. Here’s what you need to know about Ontario’s new policy on electronic monitoring of employees.
What is Ontario’s policy on electronic monitoring of workers?
As outlined by the provincial government in detail here, Ontario’s new “Written policy on electronic monitoring of employees” came into effect on October 11, 2022. This requires that employers with 25 or more workers disclose via a written policy not just if they are monitoring their employees — but also how and why.
Put simply, applicable companies must now have a policy that states whether or not they electronically monitor their employees. If the answer is yes, they do, then the policy also must:
- Describe “how and in what circumstances the employer may electronically monitor employees.”
- The reasons why — AKA “the purposes for which the information obtained through electronic monitoring may be used by the employer.”
- Date information, including the date when the policy was prepared and the date when any changes were made to the policy (if applicable).
What types of electronic monitoring could this mean? As CTV News explains, electronic monitoring could refer to an employee’s computers, cellphones or GPS.
While the requirement came into effect on October 11, employers have until November 11, 2022 to share a written copy of their policy with employees.
You may also like: The gender pay gap is still alive in 2022: here’s how we bridge it.
How does Ontario’s policy on electronic monitoring of workers impact employee rights?
As Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, explained in an interview with Global News, the law is a start, but it doesn’t necessarily offer new privacy protections for workers in Ontario.
“What this law does is provide some initial transparency,” McPhail told Global News, but it doesn’t allow workers to challenge how they are being monitored. This may be of particular concern for employees who are working from home, especially as new technologies like keystroke monitoring have become more and more common.
“The potential invasiveness of an employer trying to watch you … starts to feel more invasive for people who are working at home,” McPhail said.
So, while it may be helpful for employees to know that they’re being monitored and in what ways, they don’t have new rights to demand more privacy.