Installing video surveillance in the workplace might be an appealing possibility for employers for a number of reasons. Surveillance cameras are most commonly installed to prevent theft, deter crime and ensure the safety of staff.
However, employers must be aware of the provincial privacy laws that govern video surveillance in the workplace. In Alberta, the Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) protects the privacy rights of employees and enforces certain requirements on employers.
Here is what Alberta employers should know about their obligations concerning video surveillance in the workplace.
The Laws on Surveillance in the Workplace
In Alberta, employers must have valid reasoning for installing surveillance cameras in the workplace. In accordance to the PIPA, before collecting personal information, an organization typically must receive an individual’s consent. Consent must be obtained directly from that individual.
However, there are some instances where PIPA does allow organizations to collect personal information without consent. In any case, employers must have a reasonable purpose for installing surveillance, they must explain their reasoning to their employees and they must give notice in advance to current employees if they will be monitored.
Some surveillance cameras also record audio and it is important for employers to be aware that this could lead to serious consequences. In order to record a private conversation, employers must first obtain the consent of those speaking. Without this, it is illegal to record a conversation where there is an expectation of privacy.
Video Surveillance and Employer Best Practices
It is best practice for employers to have a written workplace policy explaining the purpose of video surveillance and how the information gathered will be used.
A written notice of this should also be displayed in a conspicuous location in the workplace. Employers should demonstrate that surveillance is required and that there is no alternative.
Employers should regularly assess whether surveillance is necessary. They should consider whether surveillance has assisted with solving the issues for which it was initially introduced and whether there is a more effective, less intrusive method. Employers should choose the option that creates minimal intrusion to an employee’s privacy.