B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is criticizing the use of police information checks for employment purposes.

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is criticizing the use of police information checks for employment purposes.

Make suicidal history off-limits in hiring checks: B.C. Privacy Commissioner

Elizabeth Denham issues report criticizing use of police information checks for employment

The growing use of police information checks to vet job applicants is resulting in inappropriate disclosure of highly sensitive information like mental illness and past suicide attempts.

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham released a highly critical report on the practice Tuesday, urging government and municipal police boards to order an immediate halt.

Unlike a criminal record check, a police information check can turn up details about investigations that don’t lead to charges, charges that don’t lead to convictions and even the target’s mental health.

“Mental health information should never be included in an employment-related record check,” Denham said.

“There is no reason why this information should be disclosed to employers, who would have no right to otherwise ask about this information in the hiring process.”

B.C.’s record check system allows the release of more mental health and other non-conviction information that the vast majority of other jurisdictions the commissioner’s office studied.

Denham said personal information that ends up in police databases is routinely disclosed to employers without any evidence it predicts future criminal behaviour, improves public safety or results in better hiring decisions.

“The information in these checks can have a significant and lasting impact on an individual’s privacy, human rights and feelings of dignity and self-worth.”

Non-conviction information held by police should be off-limits in employment-related record checks except in cases of prospective employees who work with children and vulnerable adults, Denham recommended.

Denham’s office heard public submissions warning that disclosures of mental health information vastly increases the potential for discrimination and further stigmatizes those afflicted.

Some submissions also warned the spectre of inappropriate police disclosure may deter some people from seeking help during a mental health crisis.

The report recounts individual cases of B.C. residents denied a job or unable to volunteer for youth coaching due to unproven police suspicions that never led to charges or past suicide attempts that turned up in their employer-required police information search.

That left some job applicants struggling to explain to prospective bosses why they were once suicidal or hospitalized for depression. Some said they have yet to land a job.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Amarjit Khakh of Williams Lake. (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Amarjit Khakh

Kindness and giving, key to full life

Sierra William (left) with her grandmother Eileen William. (Roger William photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Sierra William

Xeni Gwet’in woman finds strength in tradition

Cynthia English (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cynthia English

Cynthia English, 30, has been working in the logging industry for several years

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read