Breaching privacy more than legal concern

If staff fear health information is revealed, they may not seek needed treatment
By Estelle Morrison
|CHRR, Report on Healthy Workplaces|Last Updated: 04/18/2008

Privacy and the 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 private-sector organizations. The act requires all Canadian businesses to comply with several privacy principles, including accuracy, safeguards, consent and limiting use, disclosure and retention.