In a previous article we covered the top privacy challenges facing HR in 2020. Many of these privacy concerns continue to pose challenges for HR in 2021, along with several others that have risen in importance due to the changes in our working environment. In this article, we will outline five of the top privacy challenges for HR in 2021, and suggestions for dealing with them.
1. Respecting Employee Privacy in the Event of a Positive COVID-19 Test
As the pandemic continues, employers are confronted with questions about the amount of information they can share when an employee informs the employer that they have tested positive for the virus.
Employers are left grappling between their obligation to take reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment for their employees and their responsibility to keep private health information private.
- Ensure that the case has been reported to public health authorities.
- Send a notification to employees that a possible transmission could have occurred.
- Specify times and general locations where transmission may have occurred.
- Reveal the identity of the employee in question (except in rare circumstances).
- Reveal information that inadvertently identifies the employee, like the employee’s workstation.
- Pressure an employee into giving permission to identify themselves.
Keep in mind that once someone has tested positive for the virus, Public Health Officials will take over the contact tracing and notification process. Your employees may be notified individually if they have been identified as a direct contact with a positive case, and the Health Officials will provide the necessary amount and type of information, and guidance on confidentiality.
2. Breaches of Employee Information
Most breaches of employee information are not by external but internal players. These breaches are typically accidental, sometimes through negligence, and in some cases by intent. Internal breaches are on the rise, further fuelled by our increased use of digital communication.
Additionally, ransomware attacks, email phishing, social engineering, and network compromises are on the rise. Ransomware attacks alone increased by 41% in 2019. Ransom demands in Canada for 2019 totalled $341 million, but when downtime and indirect costs were factored in, this number rose to $2.3 billion