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Is technology getting under our skin?

No longer will employees be in a conundrum, standing hopelessly outside their office, patting their pockets, looking for their security pass…well at least not in Sweden. The BBC News has reported that a new high-tech office in Sweden has started inserting ‘chips’ under its employees’ skin instead of handing out security passes. Employees simply swipe their hand against the door to gain entry to their office, they can also use the photocopier, and word on the street is that they’ll even be able to buy their morning coffee!

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According to the BBC report, the chipping procedure is not too invasive, with the RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip being described as a grain of rice and the pain compared to that of an injection.

As well as the moral issues, there are also a number of interesting questions from an employment law perspective. Is this something which will be included in a contract of employment? What will happen if the employment terminates? Will the chip be seen as property which will need to be returned? Can an employer refuse to recruit someone because they refuse to be chipped?

Employers at the moment are allowed to monitor employees through various different methods but this must be explained clearly in the contract of employment or staff handbook. There are also limits on the extent of monitoring that is allowed under the Data Protection Act, and this is something that employers would have to be mindful of if chipping was introduced.

This news story seems extremely futuristic, however, given the rate that technology is developing, is this something that employers may have to think about in the not so distant future?

Eilidh Rarity Brodies LLP

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