A Wisconsin tech company is "offering its employees microchip implants that can be used to scan into the building and purchase food at work." Employees are free to decide whether to get the chip, a tiny, rice-sized radio-frequency identification device (RFID), implanted between the thumb and forefinger.
The company offers the device so employees can "easily pay for items, access the building and their computers all with a scan of their hand."
The company sees this practice as "the future" because it can be used to open doors, use copy machines, log into computers, store medical information, and unlock phones, not only in the workplace, but eventually for public transit and public purchasing usage.
The Wisconsin employer is partnering with a Swedish company, BioHax International, which has many chipped employees. Mary Bowerman "Wisconsin company to install rice-sized microchips in employees," www.usatoday.com/tech (Jul. 24, 2017).
So, the question for our readers is: would you offer to microchip your employees?
Please let us know what you think in the comment section or take the poll. Here are some opinions of some of the McCalmon editorial staff:
Leslie Zieren, Esq.
I think this idea is fraught with problems. I'll just mention a couple. I'd be interested to see the waiver form the Wisconsin company surely uses, for even this voluntary procedure. If an infection or allergic reaction results, does this qualify for worker's compensation? Are we sure that embedded chips that emit a radio signal are safe? Although the company claims the chips are not meant for GPS monitoring, will that always be the case? What if employers use the chips to track where people go on their free time, track who is seeing their doctor, or monitor if an employee is buying a candy bar instead of an apple? Voluntary consent to the procedure would need to be with full knowledge of all the privacy ramifications or it would be deemed ineffective.
Kirstin Heffner, Esq.
While the benefits of convenience, accuracy and streamlining employee data are obvious; there is also potential for risk and abuse. Any time you are talking about storing medical data, you face ADA and GINA risk. A microchip that allows employers to know exactly what people are eating and drinking, tracks spending, and a person's every move, in the wrong hands, can be a liability. And, voluntary must mean voluntary. Employers should not impose penalties or shame those opting not to chip.
I do believe microchipping is the wave of the future, and kudos to the brave employers who are testing the waters. However, in addition to an exhaustive waiver as suggested by Leslie, employers should be extremely careful about limiting the eyes that have access to the data and for what purposes it is used.
You can provide a comment on what you would do or answer our poll. Please note any comments provided may be shared with others.