Electronic Monitoring Not Just for Criminals

Tesco accused of using electronic armbands to monitor its staff – Business News – Business – The Independent

Tesco workers are being made to wear electronic armbands that managers can use to grade how hard they are working.

A former staff member has claimed employees are given marks based on how efficiently they work in a bid to improve productivity and can be called in front of management if they take unscheduled toilet breaks.

The armbands are worn by warehouse staff and forklift drivers, who use them to scan the stock they collect from supermarket distribution points and send it out for delivery. Tesco said the armbands are used to improve efficiency and save its staff from having to carry around pens and paper to keep track of deliveries. But the device is also being used to keep an eye on employees’ work rates, the ex-staff member said.

The former employee said the device provided an order to collect from the warehouse and a set amount of time to complete it. If workers met that target, they were awarded a 100 per cent score, but that would rise to 200 per cent if they worked twice as quickly. The score would fall if they did not meet the target.

Tesco accused of using electronic armbands to monitor its staff – Business News – Business – The Independent

It is possible to have all the meaning of life drained from one by despair. There are other ways to drain meaning from human beings. Work can be a blessing giving one purpose. I particularly enjoy teaching. But what would my job be like if I was continuously monitored? I’d probably survive but it would take a great deal of fun out of it, making class discussion a minefield of danger, and stifling any original content.

But I have other work experience. I worked in a factory for almost five years doing the most mundane chores for hours on end. Electronic monitoring my every move and penalizing me for bathroom breaks would taken an unpleasant and tedious situation and made it hellish. I suspect four or five years of electronic monitoring might have damaged me or anyone else in that situation psychologically. Certainly, it would have left me with a continuing undercurrent of thought related to my every working motion.

Are workers humans or something a little less? It is frightening to think of this kind of technology in the hands of a totalitarian government or a multi-national corporation.

Do we really want this kind of life for anyone? Is there any idea what the long term effects would be? And if you can think of any long term effects, are there any good ones?

This kind of monitoring needs careful analysis and regulation may well be necessary.

James Pilant

From around the web,

From the web site, Virginia Business Law Blog:

Emerging issues.  An increasingly prevalent area of surveillance that the courts seem to be upholding is the hiring of private investigators to conduct surveillance on employees that are suspected of taking leave dishonestly under the Family Medical Leave Act.  While still a relatively new development, this is one in which the courts are, so far, siding with employers.  With that said, however, this is a very delicate topic as it deals with surveilling employees when they are not at work.  In most cases, there are heavy suspicions of the employee abusing their FMLA leave before any surveillance is conducted, and it is highly encouraged that employers seek legal counsel before considering this option.

From the web site, ITBusiness.ca:

One serious concern that employers must consider, however, is that of employee morale. For some employees, an Orwellian fear of “”Big Brother”” exists in the workplace. Although most employers and employees recognize that the very nature of the employer-employee relationship denotes some level of monitoring, it is difficult to reach agreement on the level that is appropriate. The issue that ultimately emerges is how to balance an employer’s right to manage the workplace against an employee’s right to privacy.

Those advocating employees’ privacy rights often speak to various studies concluding that employer monitoring can have a detrimental impact on employees. Some studies suggest that electronic monitoring is a significant contributor to both psychological and physical health complaints. Workplace privacy proponents argue that monitoring creates feelings of paranoia and increases workers’ stress levels. On this basis, it is argued that monitoring is counterproductive to the result that employers are attempting to achieve.

And from the web site, bixnik: (760 billion a year? How was that number generated?)

Do you have any idea how many hours your employees spend online checking eBay listings, cruising social networks, looking for vacation deals, Googling old flames or (even worse) ogling porn or gambling? A survey by America Online and Salary.com concluded that employers spend nearly $760 billion a year paying employees to goof off on the Web. And with the ever-increasing popularity of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, the urge to goof off instead of working increases daily.

It’s no secret that the days of worker privacy have long since passed. With the serious potential of harassment lawsuits and security breaches that involve the release of company private information, most companies large and small have implemented Internet monitoring spy ware.

A recent Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey report has revealed that companies are “increasingly putting teeth in technology policies.” Workers have been fired from 26% of the companies surveyed for misuse of the Internet, and 25% have terminated employees for misusing e-mail.

 

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