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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Importance of Criminal Background Checks in Canada

In the gaming industry, it is important that companies exercise caution in hiring and maintaining their workforces. One way to do that is through employee background checks. Here are some quick tips about background checks in Canada:

1. British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec are the only Provinces in Canada that have privacy legislation, but the trend is for other Provinces to follow suit. Employers must exercise informed caution in developing a policy in this area.

2. It is essential to obtain the express consent of an employee to perform a background check, whether for new hires or existing employees. The best time to impose a criminal background check is at the time of hire since the new hire does not have the same "contractual rights" of an existing employee.

3. Under Canadian employment law, an employee is an employed subject to an express or implied contract of employment. An employer cannot unilaterally change a significant term or condition of the contract of employment without either the consent of the employee or prior written notice.

4. Employers should be aware that criminal background checks in Canada could take up to several months to complete.

5. The prevailing collective agreement is the employment contract for the unionized employee. There is case law to the effect that even if the collective agreement requires employees to provide consent, the privacy rights of an individual may override the terms o the collective agreement.

Finally, it is important for companies to have a considered and comprehensive policy on background checks. Since the law is always evolving, it would be prudent for companies to periodically review and re-evaluate their existing policy to ensure it is fair and balanced and in compliance with prevailing law.