Biometric scanning in the workplace: Can local government employees refuse consent?

Technology enabling facial, fingerprint and iris scans offers employers an efficient and accurate means to secure their workplaces, monitor and record their employees' time and attendance.

Councils are among the workplaces to now utilise this technology, with many more keen to start jumping on board.

Yet there are serious privacy concerns when it comes to biometric technology.

Once you collect the data it is vulnerable to be misused or hacked. You can change passwords, but you can't change your fingerprint or iris scan.

There are also broader privacy considerations. Privacy is an important human right that is fundamental to a person's autonomy and dignity.

In the context of the workplace, employee privacy needs to be balanced against the competing interests of employers in seeking the most commercially efficient ways of running their businesses.

Read more about privacy law in this context, as well as key lessons from a recent case and lessons for employers, in our longer form article here.

While local government is subject to State based privacy Acts, this case considered the Federal Act. Each of the State Acts has similar rules around consent and use for lawful purposes. Accordingly similar issues arise.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.