Daily observer

Some Canadian companies now use lanyards fitted with electronics to record how frequently employees wearing them participate in meetings. Here’s an overview of four decades of employee supervision.

13: Employees of the District of Saanich, BC, whose computers were fitted with monitoring software in 2014 that logged keystrokes and recorded screenshots every 30 seconds. The practice was found to violate privacy laws.

5 to 10: Percent of Canadian firms in 1996 estimated to have a formal policy on accessing employee email. By 2003, the number had risen to nearly 60%.

45: Percent of major US firms monitoring employee communication and Internet use, according to a 1999 survey by the American Management Association.

64:
Percent of Canadian workers polled in 2000 who said it was OK for employers to track emails and web surfing. The previous year, one Montreal-area employee was fired for spending more than half of his work hours viewing online pornography.

About 200: Employees at a Toronto law firm that in 2012 requires admin staff to clock in and out using a fingerprint scanner. Workers created a blog entitled “Which finger to give to Bay Street.”

1982: Year the federal Task Force on Micro-Electronics and Employment “strongly” recommends banning electronic monitoring in the workforce. The suggestion is not enacted.

1994: Year Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips condemns a tribunal decision upholding TD Bank’s right to test job applicants for illegal drug use: “Unless we’re prepared to [be] spied upon, probed, poked and tested, we had better get a grip on this.”

500,000: US dollars in damages claimed by a California woman after being fired for refusing to submit to 24-hour tracking by her employer. The ongoing suit alleges her boss “knew how fast she was driving at specific moments.”

About the Author

Steve Brearton


Steve Brearton is a freelance writer in Toronto.

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