Platform Overview

Microchipping Employees: Is It Legal?

In a world where the 24-hour news cycle means that most of us are immune to being shocked, sometimes there are events that bring us to question our ethics. Humans have questioned technology just as much as they’ve embraced it. This is no more true than in the foggy lines that exist between sharing information and breaching individual privacy.

Technology does so much for us, such as removing the need for cash, cards and in this case, employee cards. Legal and accounting firms in the UK have announced plans to microchip their employees – removing the need for access cards and identification cards, whilst being able to track the company information each employee can access and how they use it. However, the other side of this is that employers will be able to track their employees at any time, whether it be outside of work hours or during their lunch break.

Here we will detail the ethical and legal consequences of microchipping people and what this could do to the delicate employer-employee relationship.

What would these microchips do?

Firms argue that implanting employees with microchips will remove the need for printer cards, employer cards and building access cards. They also have the potential to make purchases for employees and log in to their devices by the simple wave of an arm.

Microchipping would make everything simpler and more efficient, but there isn’t much word on how they work outside working hours. If the microchips were always on, the distinction between a work and personal life would likely dissipate.

Is it reasonable and necessary?

Reasonability and necessity are two very different concepts. Microchipping may be reasonable if it is proven not to encroach on the privacy of employees outside the workplace. However, it’s hard to see why it would be necessary. Convenient? Yes. Needed? No.

Employees would need to be informed about what exact information the microchip would store. This would be so that they could make an informed decision whether to be implanted or not. This could also change the face of employment contracts, which would have to provide more liability clauses for any OH&S issues caused by implanting the microchips.

Attitudes towards human microchipping in Australia

Australia’s attitudes towards human microchipping are unsurprisingly conservative. Earlier this year, a Sydney man was charged with fare evasion for converting his opal card into a microchip. This was then inserted into his arm. The Judge admitted that this technology may be the wave of the future, but Australia wasn’t there yet. Beyond this, many issues surrounding privacy arise when microchip technology is considered. In the US, a company that has microchipped 80 of its employees admitted that not all of the information stored on them is encrypted. So how would companies account for it if there was a data breach? Would a privacy policy be enough to indemnify these companies? If Australian companies proposed a plan to microchip their employees, there would be heavy resistance.

An inevitable advancement?

Although the technology is already available (it’s the same technology that’s used for payWave and ETags), it’s yet to become common practice in Australia. However, there are Australians who have been inserted with a microchip. This has allowed them to pay for things, access their car and store medical information. Yet if there’s already so much resistance to databases such as My Health Record, it’s hard to see how microchipping staff will be accepted anytime soon.

Have questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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