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Answer for Employee access to personnel files

OK, just so we’re clear, this is a personal opinion, not legal guidance.
1. Electronic Access: PIPA doesn’t specify the format of the personal information; Sec. 10.4(b) says the employee is “entitled to review” the info in paper or electronic format but doesn’t say that you must generate paper records of info kept electronically. In other words, there are no clear rules re: format. As a practical matter, if the employee or his rep. can’t make sense of the elex records, I WOULD provide them in paper form so as to keep with the spirit of Sec. 10.4(b) and PIPA which is all about providing for MEANINGFUL access, assuming, of course, that there isn’t some kind of major hitch, e.g., costs in generating the paper records.
2. Shield from Disclosure: Under Sec. 23(3) of PIPA the duty to provide access doesn’t cover:
(a)information protected by solicitor-client privilege;
(b) information whose disclosure would reveal confidential commercial information that if disclosed, could, in the opinion of a reasonable person, harm the competitive position of the organization;
(c) information collected or disclosed without consent, as allowed under section 12 or 18, for the purposes of an investigation and the investigation and associated proceedings and appeals have not been completed; (there is no (d))
(e) information collected or created by a mediator or arbitrator in the conduct of a mediation or arbitration for which he or she was appointed to act under a collective agreement,)under an enactment, or by a court;
(f)information in a document that is subject to a solicitor’s lien.
Under (4), you MAY NOT disclose info if the disclosure:
(a)could reasonably be expected to threaten the safety or physical or mental health of an individual other than the individual who made the request;
(b)can reasonably be expected to cause immediate or grave harm to the safety or to the physical or mental health of the individual who made the request;
(c) would reveal personal information about another individual;
(d)would reveal the identity of an individual who has provided personal information about another individual and the individual providing the personal information does not consent to disclosure of his or her identity.
Unfortunately, none of these situations covers “manager’s notes.” However, the 22(4)(c) or (d) exceptions for disclosures affecting other employees or third parties who didn’t consent to disclosure may come in handy
One last thing: The part of the collective agreement about nobody being allowed to see personal info unless their job requires it doesn’t cancel out employees’ right of access to their OWN personal info under PIPA. But again, to the extent that the info includes stuff about third parties, it’s shielded.
Hope that helps and good luck. Glenn
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