Serco ordered to halt using facial recognition to monitor employees

Occurred: February 2024

Public service provider Serco Leisure, Serco Jersey and seven associated community leisure trusts were ordered to stop using facial recognition technology and fingerprint scanning to monitor employee attendance.

An investigation by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office found that Serco Leisure and the trusts had been unlawfully processing the biometric data of more than 2,000 employees at 38 leisure facilities for the purpose of attendance checks and subsequent payment for their time. 

The ICO said Serco and the trusts failed to show why it is necessary or proportionate to use facial recognition and fingerprint scanning for this purpose, when there are less intrusive means available such as ID cards or fobs. It also said that employees had not been proactively offered an alternative to having their faces and fingers scanned to clock in and out of their place of work, and that it had been presented as a requirement in order to get paid.

'Due to the imbalance of power between Serco Leisure and its employees, it is unlikely that they would feel able to say no to the collection and use of their biometric data for attendance checks,' the ICO argued.

Operator: Serco Leisure
Country: UK
Sector: Tourism/leisure
Purpose: Monitor employees
Technology: Facial recognition; Fingerprint scanning  
Issue: Privacy
Transparency: Governance

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️