Safety & HCM Post

Ask The Expert: Can Customers Videotape an Employee Making Service Calls to their Home?

QUESTION

Most of our employees work in customers’ homes servicing and installing phone, internet and cable. From time to time, customers will videotape our employees.  I think they have the right to do this but I’m looking for some sort of privacy or other legislation that explicitly says this. We’re federally regulated.

ANSWER

I think you’re right that this is permitted. The reason you can’t find a specific law saying this is that it doesn’t exist—at least not yet. So, the only way to justify this is by interpreting the privacy laws that do exist, in your case, PIPEDA since you’re federally regulated. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any case law dealing with this situation.)

EXPLANATION

Under PIPEDA, employer use of surveillance in the workplace is strictly limited, especially if it’s conducted secretly without the employee’s knowledge or consent. There basically needs to be a pressing safety or security issue and no less privacy intrusive ways to deal with it, like a strong suspicion of criminal activity or urgent interest to protect such as handling cash or valuables. But taping for purposes of productivity and such is not allowed.

I believe the PIPEDA principles would apply to this situation even though the person doing the surveillance is the homeowner and not the employer. IMHO, the homeowner’s surveillance rights would be similar and somewhat stronger than the employer’s given that it’s the person’s home. The general consensus: Homeowners can use video surveillance secretly and without the subject’s consent for compelling safety/security, e.g., monitoring a nurse caring for a child or elder person, or as a precaution against burglary and break-in. Accordingly, the homeowners would be justified to videotape your employees coming inside their home to perform work to the extent they do for security purposes. The homeowners’ case would be even more solid if they notify the employees that they’re being taped and why.

Bongarde Editorial

Bongarde Editorial

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