Criminal Record Checks: Privacy Commissioner's Best Practices for Public Bodies

The BC Information and PrivacyCommissioner recently released an investigation report addressing theGovernment of BC’s use of employment related criminal record checks. Of interestto public bodies generally is Appendix B to the report entitled “Best Practicesfor Public Sector Records Checks”. These guidelines are not intended to coverchecks required by the Criminal RecordsReview Act for individuals working or volunteering with children orvulnerable adults.

The report acknowledges the importance ofcriminal record checks for both prospective and existing employees in certain typesof employment positions. However, in the Commissioner’s view, an employer’s legitimatebusiness interests must be carefully evaluated in light of the “highly privacyinvasive” nature of police and criminal record checks. In order to ensure suchchecks comply with the Freedom ofInformation and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), a public body must beable to establish a nexus between the job requirements and duties and theproposed record check.

While the “Best Practices” guidelines arenot legally binding, they do provide public bodies with a clear indication ofhow the Commissioner’s Office will assess criminal record check policiesagainst the requirement for privacy protection under the FIPPA.  As a result, the publication of this report and theguidelines provide an opportunity for public bodies to review and update existingpolicies in order to ensure compliance with the FIPPA.

InvestigationReport F12-03

Please contact Frances Doyle if you have any questions regarding the information presented in this article.