Activity 1.1: Case Analysis – Case Incident: A New HR Professional's First Workplace Dilemma, p 51

Laura, a recent graduate from a human resources diploma program from a local community college, has just landed her first role as a human resources co-ordinator at a small bottling company.  Upper management has made it clear that they want Laura to make her first priority the updating of the current human resources manual.  During her second week on the job, Laura was strolling down the hallway toward the break room to get herself a cup of coffee when she passed the director of marketing office.  As she passed she noticed an inappropriate picture of a women was visible on his computer.  Shocked at what she has just seen, Laura continued down the hall, not sure what to do next.  Upon returning to her office, Laura decided the est way to start revising the manual was to introduce a policy on appropriate computer use.  She felt this wold address the problem as she didn't want to start her new job on a negative note by reporting the director of marketing to the CEO without a clear policy in place.

1.   Complete and post answers to one case question on A New HR Professional's First Workplace Dilemma - Case Incident on page 51.

1.1.   Do you agree with how Laura handled this situation? If so why? If not, what would you have done differently?

1.2.   Is it important for this company to have such a policy in place? If so, how can the employment (labour) standards act in your province/territory help in drafting a policy on appropriate computer use?

Laura has a huge opportunity in her hands. As far as she addresses this issue in the correct way, she could get many benefits for the company, her division and herself, based on the mandate that she received in the updating of the current HR manual.

So far it looks that she is addressing correctly the problem, but she should take into consideration many things before to proceed. She is new and probably she has many doubts about the company policy and employee benefits. She needs to better understand the policies in place about the use of computer, both written policies and based on precedent policies. In this sense she needs to review the policy to address the first one, and she needs to talk with her supervisor to address the second one. At the first moment it could be convenient not to disclose the issue and test the waters on the company precedents. The words "inappropriate picture" is fuzzy, vague and based on perception; what it could be "inappropriate" for Laura, it couldn't be for other people with different social/cultural/religious background.

In addition Laura should consider that issue happened during the break time, and it could be in place special permission and consideration for the use of computer for employees. 

Other subject to be considered by Laura is that the person involved in the issue is a person with some high degree of hierarchy and responsibilities in the company. Everyone in the company will expect that the people with these responsibilities should act by example and promote high standards of ethics and behaviour inside the company and the use of the company resources.

I tend to think that Laura has started in the correct way reviewing the current policy in place and trying to improve it in case that it exist some gap. If the company policy addresses this issue she should continue disclosing the situation with her supervisor. If she address directly this issue with the director of marketing it could create problems; in addition, so far it is out of the scope of her job to take the attention of the people, she only has the mandate of updating the HR manual. If the current policy in place does not address this issue, she has a good opportunity to include some guidelines in the use of computer in the company and propose to her supervisor to introduce this update.

In other way, it could be difficult for Laura to define and find consensus in drafting a policy about computer use at the company. I think we should distinguish between the usage of the company computer for personal use, and the abuse of doing it. In addition, for some kind of works, some policy restricting the usage of the computer could also restrict the sources of information to people, damaging their performance.

A corporate computer usage policy defines who is allowed to use computer facilities, and how those facilities may be used within an organisation. A corporate computer usage policy might typically include rules and guidelines relating to monitoring, privacy, improper use, allowable use, protection of sensitive company information, disciplinary action and employee acknowledgement of policy (Taylor, M., Haggerty, J., and Gresty, D., 2010). The dilemma addressing computer usage is to establish a balance between lost of productivity and job benefits/satisfaction. The inappropriate computer usage has adverse effects on organisations including loss of productivity, reduction of network bandwidth, increased risk of computer virus infection and other malicious code and increased risk of liability and legal action. In the other side, people could feel more job satisfaction if they have access to spend few time regarding their emails, social network accounts, reading news, etc; this positive, and how in house, feeling could potentially increment the job performance. So, the equilibrium point should be found. Laura has a potential risk drafting a very restrictive policy because of one incident, but damaging the work environment at the company.

Other potential gap that Laura should cover is to align this computer usage policy with regulation and law in place. In this way, she should address regulations and act such as Freedom of Information, Data Projection, Employee Privacy, Human Rights, Police, Criminal and Justice Procedures, Harassment, Money Regulation, Internal Security Policies, etc. So, again, Laura should balance all and more risks in updating new policy for computer usage.

As conclusion, Laura should have clarity in her mandate and about the priorities for the company, to analyse risk and evaluate them according to the strategies of the company. She is new at the company and without previous working experience in HR, which could represent serious risks for her and the company.


2.   Review Employment Standards in Alberta website and post two items online that you discovered about Alberta Employment standards.

2.1.   Hours of Work, Rest Periods and Days of Rest

It took my attention the way that the Employment Standard in Alberta (ESiA) defines the days of rest as function of the worked days.  This section should be linked with other section for a fully understanding of the spirit of the standards [1]. This standard specifies a direct and linear relationship between worked weeks and minimum consecutive days of rest for an employee.  In addition, the standard specifies that an employee may work a maximum of 12 hours in a day unless an unforeseeable or unpreventable emergency occurs, or the Director of Employment Standards issues a permit authorizing extended hours of work beyond 12 hours [1][2].  I found interesting the different possibilities that we have because of the specification of weeks instead of hours per week in the relationship with the minimum consecutive days of rest for an employee. This means that an employee could work a standard amount of hours per day, more or less than that, but always it will be a week.  

Work week definition states [2] [3]: this means the period between midnight on a Saturday and midnight on the following Saturday, or 7 consecutive days as established by the consistent practice of an employer. I found very vague this standard.  For example, a person could work 12 hours a day and other 7 hours a day and both are entitle with one day of rest when the first one works 71% more per day that the second one. In this case it could be better to specify at least one day of rest (24 hours) every 40 worked hours per week.

2.2.   Termination of Employment and Termination Pay

The employment and standards define the general rules for termination of employment and the rights and obligation of each part, employer and employee [4]. Two things look interesting about this definition.

First of all the possibility for an employee in not to provide termination notice because of the employee’s personal health or safety is at risk by continuing to work.  The employer has as similar right under the concept of just cause.  But what is interesting is that the standard does not tell us about the possibility of an intermediate step. This step is standard in some industries and it is represented by an inspection. For example, the worker has the right of not to develop a work if there is some excess of risk for his/her scope of job and an inspector should evaluate this link between the risk and the job. For example if a worker develops his/her job working with explosives, his/her scope of job admits risk, but if a bus driver is required to deal with explosives in the exercise of his/her job, this situation falls out of the scope of the job and it could be refused.

Secondly, construction employees should deal with a different standard than other workers; they are not entitled to notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice of termination [5]. I have found this situation as a weakness for workers; also in this industry it looks easy to predict or forecast in the short term employment necessity for the company (termination notice period depend of other variables but usually does not require too much time).

3.   Review Alberta Human Rights website and post two items online that you discovered about Alberta Human Rights.

3.1.   Termination of Employment and Termination Pay

“Employment” is not defined in the AHR Act. Canadian courts have given human rights legislation a broad, liberal and purposive interpretation [6]. After the first reading it looks confusing not to have a definition of employment in the AHR Act when is dealing with discrimination in the area of employment, or at least a clear link to some regulation or act that define “employment”.

Cases such as [7] has shown the necessity of such definition when the complainer initiated legal actions under the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission against Lockerbie and Syncrude alleging violations of s.7(1) of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act (now the Alberta Human Rights Act) which provides that "no employer shall (a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ any person, or (b) discriminate against any person with regard to employment ... because of ... physical disability…." [8]. Syncrude raised a preliminary objection that the Alberta Human Rights Panel was without jurisdiction to adjudicate a claim with respect to it because it was not an "employer" under the Act. One of the judge states that the purposes of the Act justified a broad definition of an "employer" as "one who intends to utilize the services of a person in the transaction of its business," and the term was not limited to master and servant relationships.

This broader understanding of employment was supported by the idea that the concept of employer in the human rights context was not necessarily the same as that found at common law.

As consequence, the different interpretation of the employer/employee relationship introduces many uncertainties with negatives consequences for both employee and employer and a potential increase in litigation cases.

3.2.              Pregnancy, and maternity and parental leave

Under the AHR Act, it would be discrimination to deduct time off for using the washroom frequently to a pregnant woman.

This sentence looks outdated at the current moment; it is very difficult to image the situation where an employer could deduct time to a pregnant woman in this situation (using the washroom frequently) [8]. Nevertheless, working in other country I knew a situation where a man was suspended for a week for spend much time in the washroom. The man worked in a continue line in a factory producing soap and this situation has produced some stop in the production line. The man was noticed and after recurrent behavior and having no justification for this spending time, he was suspended for one week. So, it looks like the situation is the mind of employer and finally it looks correct that it is specifically addressed.



[1] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards – Hours of Work, Rest Periods and Days of Rest, retrieved on April 28 from

[2] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards – Overtime Hours and Overtime Pay, retrieved on April 28 from

[3] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards – Hours of Work, Rest Periods and Days of Rest, retrieved on April 28 from

[4] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards –Termination of Employment and Termination Pay, retrieved on April 28 from

[5] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards – Construction Industry, retrieved on April 28 from

[6] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards, retrieved on April 28 from

[7] DL v. Lockerbie & Hole Inc. and Syncrude Canada Ltd., File No. N2004/09/026

[8] Government of Alberta, Employment Standards, retrieved on April 28 from

[9] Kandogan, E., Maglio, P., Haber, E., and Bailey, J. (2011). On the roles of policies in computer systems management. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies Vol 69. pp. 351–361.

[10] Taylor, M., Haggerty, J., and Gresty, D. (2010). The legal aspects of corporate computer usage policies. Computer Law & Security View. Vol. 26 pp. 72–76.