The danger of digging too deep (Legal view)

There are limits in how far employers can go in reference checks
By Anthony Moffatt
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/07/2008

Collecting information from references is an invaluable step in the hiring process. However, imprudent reference checks and the mishandling of reference information can cause employers to run afoul of privacy legislation. Using best practices with relevant privacy standards in mind is important to avoiding trouble caused by digging a little too deep.

Federally regulated employers: PIPEDA

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) applies to the collection, use, retention and disclosure of “personal information” about individuals by federally regulated employers. The term “personal information” has been interpreted broadly to include opinions, evaluations, comments, social status and disciplinary actions, so most information in a reference will be subject to PIPEDA.