Network - Winter 2010 - (Page 33)

Breaching Privacy More Than a Legal Concern If staff fear health information is revealed, they may not seek needed treatment protection of personal information are clearly legislated in Canada and there are legal consequences for failing to adhere to government guidelines. But there are also other risks associated with a breakdown in confidentiality that employers need to keep in mind, particularly when dealing with employee health issues. Regardless of management practices, employees may feel revealing health issues to employers could result in a lack of career opportunities or unfair treatment. They also may think, by revealing their physical or mental health conditions, they could be viewed as a liability to the organization and endanger their employment. In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) protects personal information managed by privatesector organizations. The act requires all Canadian businesses to comply with several privacy principles, including accuracy, safeguards, consent and limiting use, disclosure and retention. Government legislation aside, employers would be wise to extend the protection of personal information of employees beyond PIPEDA guidelines. Organizations need to pay Privacy and the attention to casual practices in the workplace such as telephone conversations, e-mail communications and a manager’s treatment of employees, which can all play a role in revealing confidential information, whether intentional or not. While legal implications may be the main concern for maintaining employee privacy, there are hidden costs to privacy breaches that could affect the business, such as a breakdown of trust, increase in staff turnover and reduction in employee engagement and productivity. These could ultimately result in greater consequences than legal penalties. An employee’s concerns about revealing health information can be amplified when he is suffering from a mental health issue. Despite the growing awareness of the prevalence of mental illness, the stigma associated with mental impairment remains strong. It is precisely this fear of workplace exposure that could discourage employees from seeking the very support that could prevent or treat the illness. Even an evaluation of organizational health risks can be rendered meaningless if employees are not confident their personal information will be safeguarded. NETWORK Winter 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Winter 2010

Network - Winter 2010
HRIA President’s Message
HRIA’s 2010 Board of Directors
Celebrating Excellence Awards
Recognizing Excellence in HR
Misconduct in the Blogosphere
Social Networking: What is Private and What is Professional?
Monitoring Online Behaviour of Employees
Private Property
Privacy Legislation Impacts Talent-Management Programs, Too!
Breaching Privacy More Than a Legal Concern
Drug and Alcohol Testing: A Divided Nation?
Personal Information Protection Act
Index of Advertisers

Network - Winter 2010