My wife and I work from home. We have done for several years since we gained Canadian citizenship. In all that time we’ve paid our dues and taxes, got on with life and generally been no bother to anyone.
Until this afternoon. Mrs S received an email about a new wheeze whereby ‘WorkSafe BC’ say that because neither of us has a current WorkSafe BC certificate for ‘elf ‘n safetee at work, even though I am trained in first aid and CPR, she now has to have an ‘app’ on her cellphone to check in and check out with a designated monitoring company, which I believe is a privacy violation under the Federal 1983 Privacy Act as the monitoring agency are not part of the BC official government. This is because she is officially ‘home alone’ and therefore ‘vulnerable’. Despite the fact that I am there most of the time. Furthermore, she has been informed that she will not be paid this month unless she signs up to this summary imposition. Which has been instituted by the organisation she works for as a contractor without any consultation of the workforce.
The BC lone worker program is being extended as part of a shitty little tax grab, an attempt to force all home workers to pay full WorkBC premiums when they really don’t need to be covered by the service. In short, bureaucratic mission creep, dreamed up by people who make the Addams Family look positively normal.
As a freelancer, I have not been notified of any such requirement and having heard the above, will not be alerting WorkSafe BC to my existence. Both of us are at home, working. We are safe. We work on keyboards, not with any dangerous tools. We pay our taxes on incomes from a variety of sources. Sometimes we work elsewhere. In another country. Out of cellphone coverage. Sometimes travelling by air where cellphones are supposed to be switched off. I do not see why either of us should have to ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ just because some arseheaded bureaucrat thinks it will vindicate their pointless existence. They can fuck right off and go Salami slice some other poor buggers privacy as far as I’m concerned. We’re not employees to be monitored and managed, we’re independent contractors and therefore not covered by the legislation. Even if these over-reaching bureaucrats say we are. Fuck ’em. And we’ve got private professional health and accident insurance. So there.
We do not work regular hours, and sometimes take a shower in the middle of the day, or cook, or go for a walk, or do any of a thousand other things where we do not care to be ‘monitored’. We are grown ups, not some feeble ‘senior’ or vulnerable child who needs to be watched unless our arses need wiping. We have walked our way since the dawn of our lives, and so long as we harm no-one else are accountable to no-one.
However, there’s a rather large loophole in the proposed compulsory monitoring procedure which is wide open to exploitation by any vaguely tech savvy type. As they say, “there’s an app for that”. In fact there are a number; for Android at least. All you need to do is check out the Apps market for your specific cellphone. If a ‘check in’ call is required, this can be done by automating a text or automated call to the monitoring number concerned and setting up a schedule at slightly different times each weekday. The ‘check out’ can be either done the same way, and any enquiry calls from a monitoring company’s outgoing number forwarded to some form of SMS or phone answering app with a recorded message. Something like; “Yeah, I’m fine. At my desk in my home office, okay? Gotta go, I’ve got an urgent work call coming in. Have a great day. Byee.“. Or maybe “Hi, I’m a little busy right now, can’t talk but I’m fine.” Just set up your cellphone to block all ‘anonymous’ numbers just in case the call monitors try to get tricksy, which is a snap, and Robert is one’s parents sibling. Failing that, all Apps are just code, and will only do what they are told. They can be hacked or automated. No biggie.
Also if you’re like Mrs S and I, we switch off our Canadian cells when out of country because of the massive roaming charges. Say when we leave Canada for the US or Europe and take our old Nokia 6310i’s, we simply simply leave our Canadian cellphones at home on charge and forward all wanted calls from business, friends and family to our out of country cell phone numbers or use Skype.
The same works for email or SMS. There may be scope to forward all messages from the monitoring company to email. From there it’s not difficult to set up a rule or filter to auto answer any enquiry with a stock answer, or even a range of stock answers or SMS depending upon the time of day and one need never be bothered by these bureaucratic busybodies again. Which is an old tech support wheeze for all their most annoying clients. A kind of Silicon Hell if you will. Which is exactly where all these ‘monitoring’ calls are going to go.
I suppose we could simply just quit, but that’s giving up too easily. One does not have to butt heads with authority to rebel against a suffocating system. But it’s also not that hard to make fools of them, because the people hired to run these systems are firstly not that bright, and secondly are easily tangled in the web of bureaucratic procedures, rules and regulations they inhabit like kittens playing with a ball of wool.
This could get interesting…