Employment Law: Personal Information Protection Act Essay

Question:

Discuss about the Employment Law for Personal Information Protection Act.

Answer:

Origin

Before any act is formed, a bill is introduced, which then is converted into the Act. The Bill for PIPA was introduced on 14th May, 2003 in the Alberta Legislature. The act came into being on 01st January, 2004. This act was brought into force as there was a requirement to monitor the manner in which the personal information of the individuals was used by different organizations (Government of Alberta, 2017). This act was formed to govern the collection, usage, as well as, the disclosure of the private/ personal information by such organizations. Moreover, there was also a need to protect the rights of the individuals, which they have regarding their own information, in addition to the need of the organizations for collecting, using and disclosing such information for genuine reasons.

Each act goes through changes in form of amendments and with this act too, it was the same case. This act has been amended 4 times since it was formed and on 18th November, 2014, it received its last amendment. The amendment was to allow the usage, collection and disclosure of the personal information by the trade unions, without any sort of consent, in order to inform the public on such matters which are considered as significant for dispute of labor relations or is important in the interest of the general public (Government of Alberta, 2017). In order to resolve the disputes in a quick way, this amendment was made, as without requirement of consent, the time would not be wasted in attainment of such consent.

Scope

Being a private sector law regarding privacy, PIPA is applicable to the private sector organizations, which are within the territorial boundaries of Alberta. There are cases when the act applies to the non-profit organizations as well, in order to protect the information and to provide the individuals the right to access and safeguard their personal information. This act is not applicable on the public bodies like the government departments or the municipalities. On such public bodies, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is applicable (Government of Alberta, 2016).

The applicability over the non-profit organizations is quite narrow. Section 56(1) of this act provides that the non-profit organization, for the purposes of this act includes the organizations which are incorporated under the Agricultural Societies Act, the Societies Act, or such which are registered under Part 9 of the Companies Act, which meet the criteria stated in the regulations (Alberta Queen’s Printer, 2014).

Purpose and Overview of the Act

The act came into being to govern and oversee the manner in which the personal/ private information of the individuals was handled by the various organizations. In order to balance the requirement of the organizations to use, collect and disclose the personal information of the individuals with the protection of such private information of the individuals, this act was made. Moreover, it had to be seen that the information was used for legitimate, genuine and rationale reasons only. Through this act, the individuals, whose information is used, are given the right to question the organizations in the manner in which the information is disclosed or used. They also get the right to ask for the corrections to be made, in such cases where a mistake is apparently made regarding their personal information (Law Society of Alberta, 2010).

There are many important provisions in this act, through which, the purpose of this act is fulfilled. Some of major provisions of this act include the collection of the private information of the individuals for genuine purposes; the need for consent for the collection of such information, except when there are provisions applicable which give away with this requirement; the personal information has to be accurate and complete in all manners; limit for the use, access and disclosure of this information; and the procedures and policies which are to be followed in cases of breach of privacy (Alberta Queen’s Printer, 2014).

The OIPC, which stands for Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, is responsible in Alberta, for governing and overseeing any privacy legislation (Government of Alberta, 2012). Being privacy legislation, PIPA is governed by OIPC (OIPC, 2008).

Employment Related Situations

First Situation

Under 21(2) of this act, the permission is given to the organizations to provide the reference for any of the current or former employees to the public or private sector employees in certain cases (Service Alberta, 2010).

One of the employees of G organization applied for a job in H organization. G could provide the employment reference to H, when asked for the same, without any kind of consent from the employee. But, G cannot rely over this section to disclose the Social Insurance number to H without the express consent of the employee. Even though this information has been collected as being personal information of the employee, but the disclosure of the Social Insurance Number is not needed in determining if the employee is suitable for the position in H. this is because section 15(1) states that information has to be disclosed for reasonable purposes only. So, in case G reveals this information to H, it would be a breach of this act and the penalties stated under this act, would apply (Service Alberta, 2010).

Second Situation

Under section 58 of PIPA, the organizations are prohibited from denying the benefits to the employee or taking any adverse actions against the employee, when the employee acts in good faith or with reasonable belief while doing certain things, for instance, informing the Commissioner regarding the contravention provision(s) of PIPA (Service Alberta, 2010).

An employee D informs to the OIPC that his employer has shredded some of records of an employee P, after a request was made by the employee P to access his records. By destroying the records, the employer committed an offence under PIPA’s section 59(1) (c), as the records were destroyed with the intention of evading the request for the accessing the information. Also, the employer cannot fire employee D, or demote him or even take some negative action against him for informing the Commissioner regarding its activities (Service Alberta, 2010).

In case the employer takes some adverse action against employee D, he would commit an offense under section 59(1) (e.2), as the employee D had done so in good faith (Service Alberta, 2010).

References

Alberta Queen’s Printer. (2014). Personal Information Protection Act. Retrieved from:

Government of Alberta. (2012). Privacy law. Retrieved from:

Government of Alberta. (2016). Overview. Retrieved from:

Government of Alberta. (2017). Overview. Retrieved from:

Law Society of Alberta. (2010). Privacy Legislation and Model Privacy Policies. Retrieved from:

OIPC. (2008). A Guide for Businesses and Organizations. Retrieved from:

Service Alberta. (2010). Personal Information Protection Act Information Sheet 5. Retrieved from:

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