Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #25
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Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

I check the Facebook profiles of potential employees to find out what they are really like, but I heard that the government is telling employers not to do it. Is that true and if so, why?

 

 

Dear Working Wise:

I check the Facebook profiles of potential employees to find out what they are really like, but I heard that the government is telling employers not to do it. Is that true and if so, why? Signed, Disappointed  

 

Dear Disappointed:

 

The Alberta Government is not barring employers from using social media to perform employment background checks.

 

However, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC) has cautioned Alberta organizations to ensure they are not violating the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) when conducting background checks using social media. 

 

PIPA is Alberta’s private sector privacy legislation that governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by organizations.

 

The OIPC has released a set of guidelines to help Alberta organizations understand their responsibilities under PIPA when using social media to collect personal information for employment checks. 

 

The guidelines include risks, advice and tips employers may want to consider before conducting social media background checks.

 

Using social media for employment background checks is risky, because you cannot limit the amount or type of information that you collect.

 

Privacy laws require organizations to only collect information that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.

 

Social media searches can reveal too much personal information, including information that is irrelevant to the job, information about other people, and information such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, marital status, religious affiliation, etc.,  which are protected grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act

 

Collecting personal information that is not relevant for the purpose of recruiting an employee may not be reasonable under PIPA, especially when there are other ways to get the information you need, including resumés, references, and job interviews.

 

A second risk is that the information you collect from social media sites may not be accurate. PIPA requires that organizations take steps to collect accurate personal information.

 

Social media sites may not be guaranteed to be accurate. Photos may be mislabeled and information may fall out of date. There is also the chance that you may review the wrong person’s profile.

 

TechCrunch.com found there were 76,000 John Smiths on Facebook back in 2009 when Facebook had only 200 million users. Today, Facebook has 800 million registered users.

 

The guidelines developed by the OIPC cover a few other risks including having consent from job applicants to search their social media profiles.

 

The OIPC advises that Alberta organizations need to carefully assess their ability to be compliant with PIPA prior to using social media sites for background checks.

 

Organizations should not use social media to perform background checks if doing so would result in non-compliance with PIPA.

 

For more information and advice, visit the OIPC website at http://oipc.ab.ca and read their Guide For Social Media Background Checks.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Albert Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 


It’s nearly time to start applying to post-secondary schools and my 17-year-old son still isn’t sure where he wants to study—or what for that matter. I’m worried that he might waste time and money taking courses that will be of no use to him, or worse, no

 

 

Dear Working Wise:

It’s nearly time to start applying to post-secondary schools and my 17-year-old son still isn’t sure where he wants to study—or what for that matter. I’m worried that he might waste time and money taking courses that will be of no use to him, or worse, not even go to school. How can I encourage him to find a path and follow it? Signed, Concerned Father

 

Dear Concerned:

 

I’m glad to hear you are interested in your child’s education. You play an important and influential role in helping your son make good decisions—even if it doesn’t seem that way some days.

 

You can help motivate him by being curious and asking him questions. Ask him what his interests are, what he thinks his strengths are, what careers interest him, what careers don’t interest him and why, and what his fears are. Be supportive. Tell him what you think his strengths are and remind him about his past successes.

 

Step 1—Encourage him to explore his skills, values and interests. Self-discovery is the foundation of solid career planning that will lead to a career he loves. Getting to know yourself can be tricky, though. The Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site http://alis.alberta.ca offers an online, self-directed career planning tool called

CAREERinsite that he may find interesting and helpful.

 

Step 2—Get him to explore the career possibilities. Discovering careers that fit his list of wants and interests may just be the thing to get him excited about his post secondary education. The ALIS web site features a wealth of information on career options including detailed profiles on more than 500 occupations that include typical wages, duties, work environments, employers, and educational requirements.

 

The ALIS web site also features video profiles of more than 200 careers from Baker’s Helper to Utility Planning Technologist.

 

Step 3—Have him narrow down his choices using the information he has gathered. You could suggest that he interview people who work in the careers and industries that interest him. Informational interviews will give him a real-world view of the job plus they might open up other exciting opportunities. Job-shadowing, volunteering and part-time jobs are fantastic ways for students to pick up valuable work experience and try out careers before they spend years in post-secondary.

 

Step 4—Help him choose a school. The ALIS website has a helpful page called What Education Is Right For Me? It includes tools and information on completing high school, planning for post-secondary, applying for admission and a link to the EdInfo database of post-secondary training programs in Alberta. You can search EdInfo by program (topic) or school and it includes information on student finance and scholarships. EdInfo is available at http://alis.alberta.ca/edinfo.

 

Step 5—Apply. The ApplyAlberta web site has made it easier for students to apply to one or more post-secondary institutions, authorize transcript transfers, and avoid having to fill out the same information over and over. Check out the ApplyAlberta web site at https://www.applyalberta.ca.

 

Planning out your education and career can be both fun and empowering. Having a plan and a goal will help your son get excited about post secondary and keep him motivated while he tackles the next few years of endless reading and cramming for exams.

 

Good luck to you both.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

I just hired a new person to work in our office. She hasn’t started work yet, but she seems like a good fit. She knows the software and has a great personality—but I’m a little worried. She uses a wheelchair and I’m concerned about any costs that I will h

Dear Working Wise:

I just hired a new person to work in our office. She hasn’t started work yet, but she seems like a good fit. She knows the software and has a great personality—but I’m a little worried. She uses a wheelchair and I’m concerned about any costs that I will have to have to incur to accommodate her disability. What am I in for? Signed, Concerned  

 

Dear Concerned:

It’s always a gamble when you hire any new employee. Most times, they work out fine and your latest hire is no different.

 

One in seven Albertans has a disability including those with invisible disabilities, such as learning disabilities or mental health issues.  You may already employ someone with a disability and not even know it.

 

Regarding your concern about extra costs associated with accommodating her physical challenges, you may be surprised how little it costs.

 

A Job Accommodation Network survey of more than 1,000 employers found that 56 per cent of disabled employees required accommodations that cost nothing at all. Employers reported the average cost to accommodate an employee with a disability at $320 and 95 per cent said that it was a one-time cost.

 

You will also be pleased to know that the Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) program helps Albertans overcome their barriers to employment. The DRES program can be accessed by your employee to help offset the cost, at least in part, of worksite modifications or assistive technology.

 

That’s of course if she needs any modifications at all. Many people who live with physical disabilities have become experts in overcoming the challenges of daily living, including work. They’ve often developed systems and tools that enable them to get the job done.

 

The fact is your new employee is more valuable than you think. Employees with disabilities bring to your company a number of competitive advantages.

 

Expand your customer base - employees with disabilities can identify with a diverse range of customers and anticipate their wants and needs. Anything you do to “accommodate” your new employee, may help make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to access your business, e.g., automated doors.

 

Solve problems creatively - people with disabilities have lots of life experience thinking of innovative solutions to daily problems and challenges.

 

Improve your public image - hiring people with disabilities shows your customers and staff that your company is an inclusive organization that values everyone’s contributions.

 

Increase the talent pool - opening your doors to all Albertans gives you more choice to hire the best people. Job seekers with disabilities have historically been an untapped labour source, but technology and increased access to post-secondary education is allowing people with disabilities to reach their full potential and compete side-by-side with everyone else.

 

Prepare for the future workforce - as the population ages, employers will need to know how to meet the needs of their aging customers and employees. People with disabilities have lots of expertise in this area.

 

If you would like more information on hiring people with disabilities, check out www.workink.com.

 

For more information on the DRES program, visit www.employment.alberta.ca/dres or speak to a Career and Employment Consultant at your nearest Alberta Service Centre. For the office nearest you, visit: www.employment.alberta.ca/offices

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 


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