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Telecommunications company does not improperly collect or use employee statistics

PIPEDA Case Summary #2003-153

[Section 5(3); Principles 4.2 and 4.3]


Two former employees of a telecommunications company alleged that their employer: (1) collected statistics about their work without their consent; and (2) improperly used this information to measure their job performance.

Summary of Investigation

The company traditionally collected statistical data about the volume, duration, and type of call received by its operators (positions both complainants previously held) to measure and manage workload at the office level. It recently began using this information to manage individual performance and informed employees of this policy change via group presentations, e-mail, and team and one-on-one meetings. The collection and use of statistics are also discussed in the company's privacy brochure for employees.

Operators receive a monthly report containing their individual statistics as compared with predetermined target times or expectations. Operators may also receive a report containing statistics per shift.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued April 14, 2003

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the Act) applies to any federal work, undertaking, or business. The Commissioner had jurisdiction in this case because a telecommunications company is a federal work, undertaking or business as defined in the Act.

Application: Section 5(3) states that an organization may collect, use or disclose personal information only for purposes that a reasonable person would consider are appropriate in the circumstances. Principle 4.2 establishes that the purposes for which personal information is collected shall be identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected. Principle 4.3 stipulates that the knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

In the Commissioner's opinion, a reasonable person would likely agree that it is appropriate for a company to monitor and evaluate the job performance of its employees and that since, in this case, an operator's main function is to answer customer calls, it is likewise appropriate for statistical information about these calls to be used to measure job performance. He thus found that the company's purposes met the requirements of section 5(3). He was also satisfied that the company took appropriate measures to inform its employees of these purposes, consistent with Principle 4.2. Lastly, he was of the view that performance evaluation, an integral part of the employer-employee relationship, is a condition of employment to which the complainants gave implicit consent when they agreed to work for the company. He thus determined that there was no contravention of Principle 4.3.

Accordingly, the Commissioner concluded that the complaints were not well-founded.

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