Scanning not violation of collective agreement

The employer wanted to replace a manual record-keeping system with a biometric scanner rather than a mechanical system. Despite the lack of serious security concerns, the arbitrator found that the privacy objections of the union were small when compared to the company’s need for accurate records.
By Mark Rogers
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 11/07/2011

The employer informed the union it intended to replace its manual time-keeping/attendance/security system with an automated software system that checked employees in and out using biometric scans. The union grieved.

About 180 workers were employed at the employer’s “mini mill” producing rolled steel from scrap. Sections of the mill operated 24/7 on rotating shifts, while other departments worked straight days.

The mill managed its time-keeping and attendance records manually, without punch cards or time clocks. Supervisors were responsible for entering hours worked into a computer and ensuring that the proper codes were applied to reflect shift premiums where appropriate. The system was laborious and prone to errors.