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Dispute over Jamaican employees surrendering fingerprints

According to a recent article in The Gleaner, large Jamaican companies are using biometric systems to ensure that their employees come to work on time. Many firms have insisted that the implementation of a biometrics system is solely for the purpose of checking employee attendance and use fingerprint biometrics to eliminate the “buddy clock-in system” where an employee checks in their tardy friend.

However, the corporate use of such systems is in dispute since Jamaican law clearly states that a person can only be forced to give their fingerprints if they are accused in specific criminal cases. The same law also states that a person has the right to refuse surrendering their fingerprints if they wish. A provision in the law goes as far as saying that a person must be informed by an authorized officer that their fingerprints and photos are needed for a specific legal purpose.

Companies that want implement biometric systems have issued memos to their personnel threatening to dismiss them if they refuse to comply. This situation is leading to legal disputes since only the government can compel a citizen to have their fingerprints taken.

Trade unions however are contending that such requests are legal if unions have entered into an agreement allowing for the capture of an employee’s biometric profile.  They claim the moment the trade union enters into an agreement with companies that specifically require the submission of fingerprints, employees who disagree with the provision will have no choice but to leave the union or the company itself.

Is fingerprinting really the answer to ending the buddy clock-in system?

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