Police record checks should only disclose convictions to employers, privacy commish says
B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner wants police to stop giving out mental health information in response to employment-related record checks right away.
Elizabeth Denham is also calling for government direction and legislation prohibiting the disclosure of anything other than convictions in police information checks relating to prospective employees who won’t be working with kids or vulnerable adults.
Denham issued today (April 15) an investigation report pushing for a “new design for employment-related record checks that balances the legitimate business interests of employers with the privacy rights of citizens”.
“Because of the breadth of these checks, all employers who currently ask individuals for a police information check are likely forced to collect more personal information than is authorized by provincial privacy legislation,” the report concludes. “As a result, citizens are being wrongly denied employment opportunities and are being stigmatized and discriminated against on the basis of unproven and irrelevant non-conviction records as well as irrelevant conviction records.”
According to the report, B.C.’s handling of record checks falls on the “extreme end of the disclosure spectrum” when compared to jurisdictions in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe.
The province is served by the RCMP, 11 municipal police departments, and one First Nations police service. There’s also several supplemental police agencies and integrated teams, but they do not carry out record checks for the public.
Denham’s report says that “at the direction of government and municipal police boards, municipal police departments should allow employers to request only information about convictions that are relevant to the non-vulnerable sector position being sought by a prospective employee.”
What follows are the privacy commissioner's recommendations, as stated in the report's executive summary:
1) Government and police boards should immediately direct police to cease providing mental health information in a police information check;
2) Government should enact legislation to prohibit the release of non-conviction information for record checks for position outside the vulnerable sector;
3) Until recommendation (2) is adopted, government and police boards should direct police to stop releasing non-conviction information for positions outside the vulnerable sector;
4) Government and police boards should direct police agencies to implement a record check model that allows individuals to request only conviction information that is relevant to the position for which they are applying; and
5) Government should enact legislation to mandate that the centralized office currently operating under the CRRA undertake all record checks for vulnerable sector employees.