October 22, 2020

Due to the demanding nature of their jobs, most lawyers, union representatives, and human resources professionals are likely to have experienced working from home at least occasionally. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made home offices, living rooms, and dining room tables across Canada primary workplaces instead of occasional worksites. In this session, experts will discuss important issues that have arisen for professionals because of this shift.

  • How much do lawyers and other labour relations professionals have to know about the technologies they use? Are Canadian lawyers subject to “a duty of technological competence” similar to that imposed on many American lawyers?
  • What should lawyers, union representatives, and human resources professionals know about a piece of technology in order to determine whether it provides sufficient privacy protections? Must they read and understand the complete terms of use for all software/apps they use? Can cloud-based services ever provide adequate protection for privacy and confidentiality?
  • Is personal health information subject to different standards of privacy than other types of information related to labour relations? Are additional technological safeguards necessary or appropriate for this type of information?
  • Are Internet-based means of communication, such as video conferencing, e-mail, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services, adequate substitutes for more traditional means of communication with clients, witnesses, employees, and union members? Are they sufficiently private?
  • How can labour relations professionals who are not experts in information technology protect the data on their devices from phishing scams, malware, and malicious cyber-attacks?
  • What are the potential pitfalls of having a single device (e.g. computer or smartphone) for both personal and professional use?
  • How should labour relations professionals guard against non-technological threats to confidentiality while working from home? For example, what steps must be taken to prevent family members from overhearing work-related conversations or reading confidential information in paper files? What steps are necessary to meet professional obligations regarding the storing of paper files at home?
  • Are virtual hearings an adequate substitute for in-person hearings? Do they provide sufficient protections for privacy and confidentiality? Do they allow for the assessment of credibility?
  • What are some technologies that might help labour lawyers and other labour relations professionals work more efficiently and securely from home?