Why Does My Boss Want to Microchip Me?

By Amanda Beattie
21 Feb 2019

Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day your boss will microchip you. At least, that’s what you might believe if you’ve read the news recently…

Last year, a Swedish tech firm implanted microchips into 150 UK workers. And in 2017, a company in the US became the first to offer voluntary microchipping to its employees.

But what are microchips? Why do businesses use them? And how long do you have before your boss tries to put a chip in you?

Security and staff tracking

A human chip implant is smaller than a grain of rice and is inserted between your thumb and forefinger.

One reason why businesses use microchips is for security. The chip can send a radio wave that allows workers to unlock security doors or access restricted files. So there’s no need for security passes or passwords.

Microchips can monitor staff at work, too. The chip can track what time staff turn up, how long they take for lunch and what time they clock out. So there’s no need to manually monitor staff work patterns.

In the future, chips could become part of daily life, from buying food to unlocking your front door. So there’d be no need for PIN numbers, debit cards or even house keys.

So, is UK-wide microchipping around the corner? Probably not. Here’s why.

It’s illegal

You can’t force your employees to use microchips.

That’s because it would be impossible to convince a judge there’s a business need to microchip its staff. Especially when there are other ways to keep your business secure and monitor staff in the workplace (more on that later).  

If you tried to make microchipping compulsory and your staff left because of it, you could be guilty of constructive dismissal. And a recent study suggests that one in three UK workers would resign on the spot if their boss asked them to be microchipped. So trying to microchip your staff may lead to thousands of pounds in employment tribunal fines.   

Of course, staff can volunteer to be microchipped. And the fear of upsetting the boss could be enough to convince workers. But it’s still unlikely that businesses are going to take up microchips any time soon, because…

There’s not much benefit

There are already many tools available for security and staff monitoring. And they don’t require you to perform minor surgery on your employees.

Every day, businesses in the UK use CCTV, computer monitoring and mobile apps to keep track of their workers. Amazon is even developing wristbands that will guide warehouse workers’ hands to the right location on shelves (and track staff efficiency).

And when it comes to security, most businesses simply don’t need the level of protection that microchips offer.

Even for those businesses that do have high-security needs, microchips come with their own safety issues. Can hackers copy or steal data from microchips? What do you do when staff leave your business? Are microchips any better than fingerprint recognition tech, which people already use just to unlock their phones?

So for most businesses, the benefits of microchipping workers don’t overcome the risk and hassle of doing it. For now…

Keep your business safe, today

Microchips may be new, but business security and workforce monitoring have been around for a long time.

Whatever tools you use to manage your workplace, you need to think carefully about your employees’ rights. Particularly when you handle their personal data.

Personal data includes anything that can be used to identify an individual. And your business has a lot of data on your staff.

You have an employee’s national insurance number, taxpayer information, phone number, and copies of their passport or driver’s license. You might even store internet browsing history, CCTV footage, and biometric data that can be used to identify staff.  

If you misuse this data or don’t handle it securely, then you could face prosecution. Under GDPR, businesses can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover for mishandling data. 

If you’re thinking about the best way to protect your business and get the best from your staff, call Croner.

We provide a FREE consultancy service to help you improve business security and staff efficiency while staying on the right side of the law.

Speak to a friendly Croner expert today. Call 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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