Use of an App to record employee’s start and finish times

If you want to make clocking in and out easier for employees, maybe you are considering introducing a mobile App that would streamline the clock in process. But, before you do you should consider the privacy implications and whether your organisation’s policies are up to date.

The first thing to consider is the privacy implications of asking employees to use an App to monitor their time. Depending on the specific App and the data it collects from employees or their phones, there is some risk that use of an App may amount to workplace surveillance.  In the ACT there are specific provisions in the Workplace Privacy Act 2011 (ACT) which require employees to be aware and consent to any workplace surveillance activity. Similar provisions also apply in NSW. To ensure these requirements are satisfied you should implement an appropriate workplace surveillance policy that details the types of surveillance activity that may be conducted through the App (or otherwise) and ensure this forms part of employee’s agreements.

The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) additionally requires organisations to provide notice and information to anyone they collect personal information from. Developing a privacy policy that details what information is collected from employees and how this is used will ensure employees are properly notified. 

The second thing to consider is whether you can make employees use an App to record their work hours. In the absence of a company policy relating to the use of an App, an App that is introduced may not form part of the employment relationship. If it does not form part of the employment relationship use of the App may be unenforceable. We’ve previously written about the case of Jeremy Lee v Superior Wood Pty Ltd [2019] FWCFB 2946 where the Fair Work Commission held that an employee, who refused to consent to using a fingerprint scanner to clock in, was found to have been unfairly dismissed because there was no company policy that formed part of his specific employment agreement.

Developing a privacy policy and workplace surveillance policy, and ensuring these form part of any employment agreement, should be the first step you take when implementing any new technology that could be used to track or monitor employees – even if you only intend it to be used to help employees clock in and out. We can help you achieve this just by contacting us here.

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