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What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)


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Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada's Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (better known as CASL and often pronounced “castle”) officially came into force on July 1st, 2014 and is enforced by the CRTC, Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Its primary objective is to protect Canadians from unwanted, harmful electronic messages and computer programs or software. What you may not know is, thanks to this legislation, you may be missing out on job opportunities!

What Exactly is CASL?

In its simplest form, CASL requires that anybody sending a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) must first obtain consent from their recipients. All CEMs sent must then also include their complete contact information and a functioning opt-out mechanism, where opt-out requests must be honoured within 10 days. These CEMs extend beyond email, and include text messages as well as other electronic communication mediums, like a LinkedIn or Facebook message.

Why Now?

As already mentioned, CASL was introduced in July 2014, but it included a transition period that ended on July 1st 2017. During that transition period, companies could continue emailing contacts with whom they had a relationship before 2014 without requiring further consent. In addition, although the government agencies were enforcing the new law, many believe they were still ‘testing the waters’ and now that the grace period has ended, enforcements will become more rigorous.

These two factors (as well as a now-suspended Private Right of Action that would have allowed individuals to sue spamming companies) are why you may have received a high volume of emails from companies this past Spring, asking you to consent to receiving further emails from them. Most organizations have always taken CASL seriously, but with the grace period ending, they wanted to ensure they were doing their due diligence to guarantee compliance.

How Does CASL Affect Independent Contractors?

Although the basic concept of CASL is clear, there are some “grey areas” of the law that is open to interpretation. Perhaps the most subjective piece as it pertains to job searching is when it comes to receiving job opportunities. Depending how you read it, job opportunities sent by recruiters may be considered CEMs and this naturally makes many staffing agencies cautious.

You may have already learned that some recruitment agencies are lenient in their interpretation, whereas other recruiters will push you aside if they do not have your consent to email you. Sure, they’re allowed to call you (but do you really want your phone ringing off the hook from recruiters, especially when you are working on a client site?), but without your consent, you may not receive any jobs opportunities or related material by email or text message.

The simplest way to ensure you’re getting information about jobs when you’re on the market is to provide express consent to all of the agencies with whom you want to work. By applying to a job, posting your email address to a job board or social network, or contacting a recruiter directly, you are giving implied consent; however, this expires over time. If there is an option somewhere to receive electronic communications, or if a recruiter asks for your permission to continue sending you emails, remember to say yes. You can always opt-out when you’re no longer looking for work.

What If You Want to Opt-Out of Recruiter Emails?

Perhaps you’re no longer looking for work, or maybe there’s an agency who you’ve decided is no longer the right fit for you. All companies are required under CASL to provide an opt-out mechanism in all of their CEMs. Keep in mind, though, just as express consent does not expire until you opt-out, opting-out does not expire until you opt back in. If you opt-out today and are looking for jobs again in 5 years, be sure you update your preferences.

If 10 days after you opt-out you’re still receiving what you believe are CEMs, your next step should be to call your recruiter directly to ask to be removed, and escalate as necessary. You may have not realized that opting-out of one thing (for example a newsletter) did not automatically opt you out of their job opportunities as well. Also, if a company’s opt-out mechanism is malfunctioning for any reason, they will appreciate your tip, given the fines for a CASL infraction can get up to $10 million. If after enough attempts, you still feel you’re being harassed with electronic communications, then you can report it at the Government of Canada’s SPAM Reporting Centre.

A plethora of content and documentation has been created about CASL over the last three years by various organizations, and they all have some different interpretations. If you’re unsure about anything, or would like more information you can visit the official CASL information website at fighspam.gc.ca.

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