Companies use scans to track employees|
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer
Wed Mar 26, 3:55 PM ET
Some workers are doing it at Dunkin' Donuts, Hilton hotels, even at Marine
Corps bases. Employees at a growing number of businesses around the nation are
starting and ending their days by pressing a hand or finger to a scanner that
logs the precise time of their arrival and departure — information that is
automatically reflected in payroll records.
Manufacturers say these biometric scanners improve efficiency and streamline
payroll operations. Employers big and small buy them with the dual goals of
curtailing fraud and automating outdated record keeping systems that rely on
paper time sheets.
The new systems, however, have raised complaints from some workers who see
the efforts to track their movements as excessive or even creepy.
"They don't even have to hire someone to harass you anymore. The machine can
do it for them," said Ed Ott, executive director of the New York City Central
Labor Council of the AFL-CIO. "The palm print thing really grabs people as a
step too far."
The International Biometric Group, a consulting firm, estimated that $635
million worth of these high-tech devices were sold last year.
Protests over using palm scanners to log employee time have been especially
loud in New York City, where officials are spending $410 million to install an
automated attendance tracking system that may eventually be used by 160,000 city
Scores of civil servants who are members of Local 375 of the Civil Service
Technical Guild rallied Tuesday against a plan to add the city medical
examiner's office to the list of 17 city agencies which already have the
scanners in place.
The scanners have rankled draftsmen, planners and architects in the city's
Parks Department, which began using them last year.
"Psychologically, I think it has had a huge impact on the work force here
because it is demeaning and because it's a system based on mistrust," said
Ricardo Hinkle, a landscape architect who designs city parks.
He called the timekeeping system a bureaucratic intrusion on professionals
who never used to think twice about putting in extra time on a project they
cared about, and could rely on human managers to exercise a little flexibility
on matters regarding work hours.
"The creative process isn't one that punches in and punches out," he
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Matthew Kelly, said the system isn't
meant to be intrusive and has clear benefits over old-style punch clocks or
paper time sheets.
The city expects to save $60 million per year by modernizing a complicated
record keeping system that now requires one full-time timekeeper for every 100
to 250 employees. The new system, dubbed CityTime, would free up thousands of
city employees to do less paper-pushing.
Another benefit of the system is curtailing fraud. Several times each year,
New York City's Department of Investigation charges city employees with taking
unauthorized time off and then filling out a false timecard later to make it
looked as though they worked.
Other cities have embraced similar technology.
Cities as big as Chicago and as small as Tahlequah, Okla., have turned to
fingerprint-driven ID systems to record employee work hours in recent few
Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, a manufacturer of hand scanners based
in Campbell, Calif., said it has sold the devices to Dunkin' Donuts and
McDonald's franchises, Hilton hotels and even to track civilian hours at Marine
The systems have been introduced into plenty of workplaces without much
grumbling by employees, especially those already used to punching a clock.
Still, union officials in New York said they are concerned that the machines
could eventually be used not just to crack down on employees skipping work, but
to nitpick honest workers or invade their privacy.
"The bottom line is that these palm scanners are designed to exercise more
control over the workforce," said Claude Fort, president of Local 375. "They
aren't there for security purposes. It has nothing to do with productivity ...
It is about control, and that is what makes us nervous."
Original article: Yahoo - AP
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