The fingerprint sensor identifies unique minutiae points and measurements within a fingerprint and creates a digital template -- not an image -- for matching."
The Australian Services Union has raised concerns about the City of Monash's plan to introduce the scanners in its libraries next month.
The concerns include questions about where the personal information will be stored and what will happen to it when employees leave the job.
Those concerned about an employer's ability to keep private information private have far greater causes for worry than biometric time-and-attendance systems. Moreover, worker privacy may be enhanced by greater adoption of biometric ID management technologies.
Employers already record an employee's:
Government issued tax ID number
Salary and other income information
Performance Reviews and Disciplinary Records
An employer that provides health benefits may also have private information related to the employee's:
Certain medical conditions
Drug and Alcohol counseling
When pay checks are deposited directly to employee bank accounts, the employer also has bank account information.
Employers already have extremely sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, can be used for identity theft, harassment, discrimination and any number of other abuses. A long string of apparently random text characters (biometric template) cannot be used for any of these things.
Where employers maintain such detailed records on their employees, legal remedies should be available to individuals who have been harmed by the unauthorized disclosure of private information. When compared to these and other workplace privacy threats, concerns about time-and-attendance biometrics fade into insignificance.
After all, Woolworths, the company in question, has been using them without incident for 15 years.
Those who have concerns about the quantity and nature of the personal information maintained by employers might find a privacy ally in biometrics.
Biometrics can and are used to control access to sensitive information, helping to ensure that sensitive records are accessed only by those authorized to view them.
See also: Do Employees Have a Right to Refuse Enrollment in a Biometric System? (M2SYS blog)