The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development in Ontario provides guidance on electronic monitoring policies. While the ministry states that this is not a binding document under the law, it does provide helpful insight into the new requirements regarding employee electronic monitoring and what businesses must do to comply with the new rules, which were added to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. It can be difficult to keep up with constantly changing employment laws in Canada. If you have questions about electronic monitoring policies and how they may impact you or your business, consider contacting Jeremy Scott Law by calling (902) 403-7201.
What Is Electronic Monitoring?
Electronic monitoring is any form of monitoring employees through electronic means. Some examples of electronic monitoring by employers may include:
- GPS and location tracking
- Email monitoring
- Network activity tracking
- Phone monitoring
- Time tracking
- App usage
- File tracking
- Internet usage
- Video surveillance
- Electronic sensors
- Website tracking
What Is Ontario’s Electronic Monitoring Policy?
The new rules require covered employers to provide written electronic monitoring policies to their employees by a certain date each year.
Why Are Electronic Monitoring Policies Necessary?
The Ontario electronic monitoring policy does not forbid electronic monitoring, nor does it create a new right of privacy for workers. However, the Ontario law helps ensure that employees work under transparent conditions. Covered employers must inform their employees they are electronically monitoring them and explain the scope and purpose of the monitoring.
Who Does the Electronic Monitoring Policy Apply To?
Ontario’s employment electronic monitoring policy requirements apply to any employer who has exactly 25 or greater than 25 employees as of the 1st of January of any year, regardless of whether the employees are part-time or full-time. For employers who have different locations, the number of employees from each location combined as a whole to determine if there are 25 or more employees.
What Are the Requirements of Electronic Monitoring Policies?
According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, the electronic monitoring policy must include the following information:
Whether the Employer Uses Employee Electronic Monitoring
The electronic monitory policy should state whether the employer uses electronic monitoring. Even if the employer does not use employee electronic monitoring, the employer must have a policy that explicitly states this. The employee electronic monitoring policy applies whether the employee works at the employer’s workplace, from home, or a hybrid combination of the two. The policy applies equally to monitoring of devices supplied by the employer, as well as those owned by the employee, such as through bring your own device policies.
A Description of When and How the Employer Electronically Monitors Employees
The policy also must provide information regarding exactly how an employer may monitor employees through electronic means, including an exact description of conditions and circumstances when such electronic monitoring may occur. The policy would generally state the type of electronic equipment the employer would use to electronically monitor the employee. For example, a policy may read:
- The employer has the right to electronically monitor employees
- The employer has installed GPS units in its delivery vehicles
- The employer examines the employee’s movement when they are in the vehicle
- The employer examines the employee’s movement every workday for the entire workday
Another employer’s policy might read:
- The employer has the right to electronically monitor employees
- The employer has provided the employee with devices to use for work purposes, such as cell phones, computers, or tablets
- The employer has installed software in these devices that allows it to electronically monitor employees
- The employer may monitor employee emails, phone calls, and chats through the software
- The employer monitors the employee’s actions whenever they email or chat online
How the Employer May Use Information Gathered by Employee Electronic Monitoring
The policy must also state the potential uses the employer has for the information it has gathered through electronic monitoring. For example, purposes an employer may have for employee electronic monitoring include:
- Ensuring employees are working during their official work hours
- Assisting in setting delivery routes
- Creating more efficient practices
- Ensuring the intended use of equipment provided by the employer
- Monitoring communications for professionalism
- Improving employee safety
- Disciplining employees who are dishonest about their location or work during their work hours
- Evaluating employee performance
- Ensuring that work is completed during work hours
The Effective Dates of the Policy
The policy must state the exact date the electronic monitoring policy was created and when it will become effective. If changes are made to an existing policy, the date changes were made must be included. In 2022, all covered employers are required to have a written electronic monitoring policy by October 11, 2022. For future years, all covered employers must have an electronic monitoring policy in place by March 1.
Additionally, employers must share the policies with their employees by providing new employees with a copy of the policy within 30 days of their hire date or the date the policy is prepared, whichever is later. Employers must distribute a copy of the electronic monitoring policy to existing employees within 30 days of the date the policy was prepared or updated.
Ontario Provides Guidance on Electronic Monitoring Policies
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development released guidance on the new policy requirements on its Employment Standards Act webpage. The guidance is not a legal document, but it is a convenience source of information about this important law. If you have any questions about the new requirements, you can refer to the Employment Standards Act or contact Jeremy Scott Law.
Contact Jeremy Scott Law for Help with Your Electronic Monitoring Policies
If you are confused about the new rules regarding electronic monitoring policies, you are not alone. Although Ontario provides guidance on electronic monitoring policies, it can be difficult to stay up to date with constantly evolving employment laws. The team at Jeremy Scott Law is very familiar with the Employment Standards Act and the recent changes regarding written electronic monitoring policies. Consider contacting our office by calling (902) 403-7201 to learn more about your requirements and whether your policies comply with the law.