UK companies microchip employees, sparking fears from unions

Microchips the size of a grain of rice could soon be implanted under your skin to help your workplace monitor how you utilise your time in the office. The chip is designed to improve workplace security, offering the ability to unlock doors and provide authentication for services, but it’s also sparked far more Orwellian fears around the future of work.

The UK’s largest employer organisation, the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) has come forward with its concerns around companies eyeing up the potential of microchipping their employees. Chief among them is the fact that it hands over far too much control of an individual to the business they work for.

“We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.

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“Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped.”

O’Grady added that employers should always discuss and agree on workplace monitoring policies with their workforces.

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“Unions can negotiate agreements that safeguard workers’ privacy, while still making sure the job gets done. But the law needs to change too so that workers are better protected against excessive and intrusive surveillance,” O’Grady said. 

One of the companies to offer the chips is UK-based BioTeq. The chips are similar to those used for pets, but they enable people to operate security systems, such as car and office doors with the wave of a hand, much like making contactless payments or using an RIFD key fob.

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Another chip company based in Sweden, called Biohax, is in talks with several UK legal and financial firms about implanting staff. It’s founder and former professional body piercer, Jowan Österlund, told the Telegraph that the chips are foolproof.

“These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with,” said Österlund. “The chips would allow them to set restrictions for whoever.”

“There’s no losing it, there’s no dropping it, there’s no forgetting it. There’s always going to be an ultimate backup.”

The TUC’s warnings may have come too late as BioTeq have already fitted 150 implants into British workers and Swedish based Biohax is planning an office in London, according to its website. It claims 4,000 people have been microchipped, mostly in Sweden.

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