Ontario Requiring Employers to Disclose Electronic Monitoring
KITCHENER — The Ontario government is working for workers and plans to introduce new legislation later this month that would require employers to tell their workers if and how they are being monitored electronically. If passed, Ontario would become the first province to require electronic monitoring policies and protect workers’ privacy by requiring employers be transparent on how employees’ use of computers, cell phones, GPS systems and other electronic devices are being tracked.
“Today, businesses have more ways than ever before to monitor where their workers are and what they are doing. Whether you are a delivery person being followed by GPS, a construction worker using a company phone, or an office worker logging in from home, you deserve to know if and how you are being tracked,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “The future of work is changing, which is why our government is leading the country to ensure workers remain in the driver’s seat.”
Under the proposed changes, employers with 25 or more workers will be required to have a written electronic monitoring policy in place for all their employees. The policy would need to contain information on whether the employer electronically monitors its workers, and if so, a description of how and in what circumstances the employer does this. In addition, the employer would need to disclose the purpose of collecting information through electronic monitoring.
This proposal, and others to be unveiled in the coming days, follow legislation introduced in the fall to remove unfair and discriminatory barriers against foreign-trained professionals, create the “Right to Disconnect”, and ban the use of non-compete clauses, all designed to make Ontario the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
This new requirement would, if passed, apply to employees working in the workplace, in the field or at home.
A recent Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee revealed that 89 per cent of people in Ontario believe that the workplace has changed permanently due to COVID-19 and the province needs to act to update employment regulations, as a result.
The COVID-19 pandemic initiated the largest shift to remote work in history with 32 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 69 working from home in January 2021, compared to just 4 per cent in 2016. At the same time, technologies available for businesses to monitor their employees has risen over the last decade as well.
Working for Workers Act, 2021
Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act
Ipsos Survey: How COVID has changed how we work and what we need to prepare for the future