Fingerprint system to monitor staff movements is piloted

Posted on May 19th, 2008

Fingerprint technology could soon be used across the UK to monitor employees’ movements, after a pilot scheme was deemed successful.

The system allows several HR roles to be carried out automatically when a worker presses their finger on a touch screen. Pushpendra Jhala, chief executive of Nivid, the technology firm behind the Touch ID system, told Personnel Today he was in talks with a range of employers.

“We have had enquiries from lots of retailers, and we are looking at other sectors such as offices and warehouses,” he said.

Six franchised stores of the supermarket chain Budgens piloted the Nivid technology, requiring shop workers to clock on and off using the fingerprint system. The system is designed to prevent employees skiving off work and getting their colleagues to clock out for them. Two Budgens stores with a combined workforce of 25 saved £10,000 over 12 months through greater productivity and streamlined HR processes using the system.

Jhala said: “The technology can be used to handle leave management, shift scheduling, paid and unpaid breaks and payroll. We envisage that eventually it will replace traditional clocking-on devices.”

The system converts fingerprints into a binary number and immediately erases the prints to comply with data protection legislation.  The Budgens trials follow claims last week that lie detector technology, trialled by councils to detect benefit fraud, would soon be used by employers to stop staff faking sickness absence. That technology, developed by outsourcing firm Capita with technology specialist Digilog UK, works by picking up changes in a caller’s voice.  In a further employee surveillance development, a national database of staff sacked for dishonesty has been launched.

Trade unions warned HR professionals that the best employer-employee relationships are based on trust, which was likely to be damaged by excessive surveillance.