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Mid-Employment Checks in Canada Legal but Complicated

In the aftermath of a recent decision by a Canadian government institution to perform mid-employment background checks, Canadian HR professionals are saying that while the practice is legal, companies conducting such checks should proceed with caution. “…it opens the door for discrimination,” said an HR business advisor based in Toronto. “Depending on the purpose and how it is applied, it might discriminate on long-term employees with good performance, sometimes with minor records that have no effect on their work.” Canada Post announced in March 2013 that it would implement the new screening practice for its employees, which would allow them to perform background checks on current employees every 10 years and gives the organization authority to change the frequency of employee screenings at any point. “The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) opposes this policy of mid-employment checks primarily because it’s a breach of members’ privacy and also because Canada Post has not been clear and specific about the scope, requirements, process or intent of the checks,” said Gayle Bossenberry, CUPW’s first national vice president. The impact of the mid-employment background check on current Canada Post employees depends on how the postal service implements a review program with its employees and how it plans to take action on the results.

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