Telephones, Computers and Mobile Devices

It is recognized that an employer has a legitimate interest in ensuring that workplace policies are being followed. Acceptable use policies should state what employees can/cannot do with regard to computers, email and other electronic devices.

If an employer allows employees to use phones, computers or other devices for personal use there will likely be a legitimate expectation of privacy on the part of the employee with regard to the personal communications. Such personal communications would not be considered under the “control” of the school division.

Employers can, however, prohibit personal use entirely or can limit the amount or type of personal use. Strong policies that clearly set out what is and what is not under the control of the school division will help both employees and the school division understand how the information should be dealt with.

The employer can monitor usage of the devices or system to ensure that the policy is being observed.

Any monitoring that might be conducted to attempt to ensure adherence to policy should be set out in policy.

Employees should be aware of the nature, extent and reasons for the monitoring. They should understand when it might take place, which has the authority to do the monitoring, and for what purposes the information collected can be used.

The type of monitoring used should be the minimum required to accomplish the purpose.

For further information on use of electronic devices please see case R v. Cole, 2012 SCC 53, [2012] 3 S.C.R. 34, Supreme Court of Canada.


When a breach of policy is suspected an employer may wish to access the records of particular employees as part of the investigation. An employer is generally entitled to have access to the work product of its employees including paperwork and electronic records.

The limited privacy interests that may exist for employees with regard to records created during work hours must be respected – records that are clearly personal and not in the control of the board of education (board) should not be accessed or retained by the employer.

Boards should make clear to employees in policy or in acceptable use procedures that the employer may access records for purposes of investigation, as well as for monitoring purposes.