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Israeli court rules that employees cannot be forced to use biometric time clocks

The Israeli National Labor Court ruled that organizations cannot force their employees to use biometric time clocks at the office, according to a report by Lexology.

The Court’s ruling revoked the regional labor court’s 2014 decision regarding a collective labor dispute against the Qalansawe municipality, which aimed to make it mandatory for its employees to use a biometric time clock system to monitor their work attendance.

According to the court’s ruling, “forcing workers to hand over their fingerprints for biometric time clock purposes by threatening to deny wages from employees that refuse to do so, is an unlawful violation of the workers’ right to privacy and autonomy”.

In addition, the court said that such employer practices violate the higher duties of good-faith and fairness that employers must exercise towards their staff under Israeli law.

The court said that “fingerprints are biometric samples and as such encapsulate unique physiological information which serves as a key to access considerable personal data”, while emphasizing that sampling fingerprints infringes an individual’s privacy and autonomy rights.

There can also be other infringements of these rights arising from the potential misuse or unauthorized use of biometric samples for reasons other than those initially intended.

The court stated that “the inherently unique nature of biometric data coupled with the loss of control over it, is precisely what gives rise to a violation of a person’s rights to privacy and autonomy”.

In conclusion, the court said that employers cannot enforce their workers to provide fingerprints, or any other biometric data, without their consent, unless they have implemented a contractual clause that states that all employees are obligated to use biometric time clocks.

Earlier this month, the Knesset passed the biometric database law in its second and third readings after all concerns were addressed and resolved.

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