Surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada are in place to keep employers and employees safe, and are more strict than you may think.
Understanding laws and regulations is therefore extremely important as both an employer and employee, and this article will answer questions that both parties may be asking.
Get safe advice from the security professionals at Jay360 today!
Surveillance Cameras In The Workplace: Laws In Canada
Surveillance cameras in the workplace are very common. It’s likely that you have visited or even worked somewhere with security cameras.
This “Surveillance Cameras In The Workplace Laws In Canada” article is intended to answer frequently asked questions about workplace surveillance cameras.
Surveillance Cameras In The Workplace Laws In Canada FAQ
Read the FAQ below to find out more about surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada and what these regulations mean for you.
For more information on surveillance cameras in the workplace laws in Canada, see Legalline.ca, Canadiansecuritymag.com and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance.
These laws largely stem from a federal Privacy Commissioner investigation that found an employer’s purposes for collection and use of information captured by the video surveillance cameras, as stated below, are reasonable if they:
1. Ensure the safety and security expectations of customers and employees.
2. Reduce and discourage incidents of vandalism and illegal conduct.
3. Limit the potential for liability for damages due to fraud, theft or inappropriate operational procedures.
Here are some more specific questions you may have:
Q: Why do workplaces install surveillance cameras?
Most workplaces install security cameras to keep employers and employees safe on the job.
Generally, surveillance cameras are common in retail stores, financial institutions, manufacturing plants, casinos and wherever cash or inventory is found, and are installed to deter theft, vandalism, assault and sexual harassment. (source)
Q: Can my employer set up a hidden camera to watch me and other employees?
Hidden cameras are also sometimes used to secretly record suspected criminal or improper activity. However, Canadian courts have not looked favourably on employers who install these types of cameras without sufficient cause. (source)
Keep Your Property Safe!
Q: How do I know if there are surveillance cameras in my workplace?
Your employer should have easily readable signs informing you and the public that you are under surveillance. If you are unsure whether or not your workplace has surveillance cameras, ask your employer. (source)
Q: Does belonging to a union change anything about surveillance cameras in the workplace?
Yes, depending on your union’s collective agreement.
Some unions prohibit employer’s use of video surveillance used for the purpose of monitoring employees.
If a union dispute occurs, a labour arbitrator rather than the courts will decide whether or not to view employer’s video footage. In a non-unionized workplace, employees have a general right t0 privacy unless otherwise stated or waived. (source)
Q: As an employer, do I have to let employees and customers know about our security cameras?
In order to remove any reasonable expectation of privacy, employers should put up signs to let others know they are under surveillance.
These signs should be easily readable and accessible, as well as written in both of Canada’s official languages (English and French).
In retail stores, banks or businesses in areas where other languages are spoken, multilingual signs should be posted, ideally beneath a camera attached to a video monitor displaying a live action picture. (source)
Q: Can I set up audio surveillance along with my video surveillance?
No. In Canada, surveillance cameras in the workplace are not allowed to have an audio component. Did you know that recording private communications without consent is a criminal offence? Therefore, in compliance with the law, stick with video only surveillance cameras. (source)
Q: How can I ensure my employees feel comfortable with the video surveillance of our workplace?
It is in good practice to implement a video surveillance policy. This policy should include what captured video surveillance will be used for, the procedure for collecting information, and the disclosure of personal information caught on surveillance.
This will help employees feel secure, and employers avoid potential legal battles. (source)
Q: What can I use captured surveillance footage for?
You can only use captured video surveillance footage for its intended purpose. In most workplaces, this purpose is preventing or catching criminal activity.
According to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario – Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance, “institutions may only use personal information collected by means of video surveillance for the purpose of the video surveillance program or for a consistent purpose.”
Q: What happens if criminal activity occurred in a private area but was caught on surveillance cameras?
In some cases, personal privacy is more important than captured criminal footage. This means that if an employee felt their privacy was violated and had a good reason to feel this way (privacy was assured), the footage may be dismissed from court. (source)
Got Another Question Or Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?
As an employer, ensuring your workplace follows Canada’s surveillance laws and regulations is necessary.
As an employee, understanding your privacy rights and being well informed about surveillance in the workplace is important.
Asking the right questions and ensuring that you feel comfortable with workplace surveillance are the some of first steps to a healthy workplace environment!
Do you have more questions or didn’t find the answers you were looking for?
Note: Jay 360 does not answer legal questions (ie. security camera law questions).
If you have a legal question we recommend you contact your local bi-law office and/or your local lawyer.
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