Biometrics may sound like a word from a science fiction topic. Actually, it is a technology that has been around for awhile, but is beginning to be used more frequently. The definition of biometrics has to do with the analysis and study of analyzing biological date. It is the use of any physical data such as the simplest of fingerprinting to the most complicated such as DNA chains and molecule profiles. However in its daily workplace application, biometrics have to do with using physical characteristics to record data about a person, such as tracking their work record. Many workplaces are using fingerprinting systems to have employees clock in. Other workplaces use eye scans. These are examples of how biometrics are being used in the workplace.
Why my concern over biometrics? My previous employer began using a time clock system called Kronos. Kronos operates off of a fingerprinting system. Also, the employee clocks in using a bar code on their identification badge. This can become an issue because some religions, such as Seventh Day Adventists, are wary of being a part of any big brother technology system. Also, many people feel that a system such as Kronos, violates their privacy. What sort of laws are in place to protect an employee being required to use a system such as Kronos?
Participating in a biometric system at a workplace is suppose to be voluntary. A person can opt out for religious reasons. however, my workplace did not give us such an option. I have my doubts as to whether any work place would allow an employee to opt out. If they did, other employees would jump on the opt out bandwagon. Also, it would require extra old fashioned time keeping on the part of the supervisor. An employee could push the issue, but are the consequences worth the objection?
There are other concerns with using a biometric workplace system such as Kronos. There are a small percentage of people that for whatever reason, can not be scanned. Whether it be a weak fingerprint or a difficult eye scan, not everyone is scannable. Some bring up the issue that this is discriminatory. In addition, once fingerprinting or other biometric data as been stored, the reliability of the data can no be guaranteed. For instance, when I signed in at work, some times it would state my finger print was only a 50 percent match. Who is to say someone else won’t have a similar match or the system would make a data error?
There are also concerns about how the data can be used. Although administrators claim the data is secure, how can this be guaranteed? In addition, is requiring a person to scan private biometric information an intrusion of privacy? To say the least, the technology is invasive.
Before being required to use biometric technology at your workplace, contact your Employee Relation Department to check on your options. If you are still reluctant to give out physical information for the system, call an attorney or contact the Civil Liberty Union. You have rights, and sometimes, fighting for them is worth the effort.