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Guidelines Confidential Records and information

Guidelines – Confidential Records and Information

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act defines a record as a record of information in any form and includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers and papers and any other information that is written, photographed, recorded or stored in any manner.

Confidential information is information that one person entrusts to another person with the expectation that privacy will be maintained. A record that contains confidential information is considered a confidential record.

Confidentiality is determined by the following factors:

  • the existence of a statement or agreement of confidentiality
  • evidence of an understanding of confidentiality
  • past practices of Athabasca University in regard to keeping this type of information and records confidential
  • the type of personal information being supplied
Information being supplied in confidence should be stamped, marked, or include a statement that it is confidential or being supplied in confidence. It is not sufficient to stamp information confidential and then treat it as any other general information. Confidential records must be consistently treated in a confidential manner. Sufficient evidence must exist to support the assertion of confidentiality.

The following guidelines should be considered for confidential records:

  • Store confidential records in secure cabinets. Cabinets should always be kept lock when not in use, not located in a public area, and access to the cabinets limited to only authorized employees.
  • Access to the confidential records should be restricted only to those employees that require the information.
  • Confidential records should be placed in a file folder, envelope or other form of cover when out of the secure cabinet. When the record is not in use, it should be returned to the cabinet.
  • Confidential records should never be left in an open area such as an in basket or on a desk. The record should be returned to the cabinet when not in use.
  • Confidential records must be destroyed by confidential shredding only.
  • Confidential records should be stored separate from other similar records. An example would be to have two personnel files for each employee. One file that contains general and accessible personal information and the other that contains only confidential information. The same could apply to student records.
  • For electronic records, store confidential records in separate directories or files, restrict access to these directories or files, and remove by deletion only.

Examples of types of confidential records and information are:

  • Reference letters
  • Student Records
  • Personnel Records
  • Library Patron Records
  • Evaluations of performance
  • Counsellors Client Files
  • Student Advisor's Client Files
  • Grievance Files
  • Appeal Files
  • Payroll Records

Office of the University Secretariat, January 2006

Updated May 30 2014 by Office of the University Secretariat

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