Very soon we will be releasing our cutting-edge contractor and project management solution, codename PROStruction. This solution offers a selection of highly impressive new tools for managing construction workers and ensuring effective controls over spending and logistics in projects.
One of the new technologies included is biometric scanning (fingerprint scanning). Today, fingerprint technology, developed by our good friends at IEVO, has advanced to new levels. This means that the technology is now dependable, secure from tricks and scams (such as fingerprint replication) and works in any weather condition (including rain, snow, extreme heat and is even useable with thin gloves!)
Prior to demonstrating this new solution, we wanted to answer some key questions in regards to Biometric Scanning. This data has been collected from third party sources to ensure a non-biased approach.
Can an Employer Compel Staff To Provide Biometric Samples And Utilise Biometric Security Systems?
In much the same way as an employer can establish procedures in relation to staff being searched when departing from a workplace, protocols can be imposed upon staff to provide biometric samples and utilise the biometric security systems. These procedures are incorporated as conditions of employment and form part of the contractual arrangement between employer and employee. The failure of a staff member to comply with these directives could lead to disciplinary action and even dismissal.
In relation to other visitors to a workplace, the requirement to submit the personal information to allow the biometric measuring devices to operate becomes a condition of entry. Just as a crowd controller could refuse entry to an inappropriately dressed patron for failing to meet the dress-code requirements of a late-night venue, where a condition of entry requires biometric information to be supplied, security staff could similarly refuse entry to those who do not comply.
The UK is set to leave the EU officially in around two years time (once article 50 has been activated). In the meantime all legal considerations must be based on current EU regulations. It would also seem likely that once the UK leaves the EU, regulatory control over the construction industry will become more focused and demanding to ensure the UK becomes a world leader in this field.
Biometrics and Workers Rights
The use of any biometric system must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and with the Data Protection Directive. In the UK, these laws take the form of the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act.
The Human Rights Act states that we are all entitled to respect for our private life, and interference with this by the government is only permitted in specific circumstances. The courts have made it very clear that “private life” does not only apply to life outside work. It will also apply in the workplace.
The Data Protection Act regulates the way that organisations process information that identifies us. It requires, for example, that the use of such information (including biometric data) must be “fair” and limited to specific purposes, which have been notified to the individual when they handed over their personal data.
Proportionality requires that interference with someone’s private life, or the use of their biometric data, must be justifiable by the benefits of the scheme. This usually means balancing the rights of the individual with the rights of the organisation or the public at large. Transparency means making it clear how and why information will be used, and not going beyond this without prior agreement.
In legal terms, biometric data is no more intrinsically “private” than any other personal data. However, the law requires that the purpose of a biometric scheme must be clear from the outset and that the use of biometric information must be proportionate to the benefits that the scheme is likely to offer.
Companies planning to roll out biometric systems will need to think carefully about how they collect information, how they store it and how and when it can be accessed or matched.
In particular, for example, many individuals would reasonably be concerned if biometric data were to be used by companies for commercial gain. There are also some complex legal issues that will arise if biometric data is shared or transmitted, particularly if it is transferred outside Europe.
In practice, companies will need to establish very clearly whether a biometric scheme is voluntary or compulsory (and what the consequences would be if an employee refused to participate in a voluntary scheme) whether the scheme operates by means of verification or identification and whether the use of biometric information is compatible with the purposes of the scheme.
There is also the issue of function creep – that is, whether different uses of information may emerge in the future which were not contemplated when the scheme was set up.
Companies will need to consider what methods they will have to put in place to ensure the security of any biometric information they hold and the cost of implementing these measures.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, companies should consider how they will allay users’ concerns about the use of their biometric data. No doubt some will be worried that the use of biometric data will somehow infringe their rights to privacy and enable fraudsters to use it to commit crimes or steal their identities. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome – the biometric hardware put in place will only be successful if users are willing to provide their data.
It is arguable that one of the reasons why the use of biometric technologies has not been as extensive as one might imagine is that the “Big Brother” connotations have had a major impact on public perception.
Biometric technologies are likely to play a big role in the development of commercial security over the coming years, but it is imperative for companies to think through the legal issues first, or risk falling foul of increasingly complex legislation.
Interested in Biometric Scanning for the workplace?
You should take a look at our solution: