Privacy v Presenteeism: the price of workplace Temperature Checks.

Are you in the 79% of the Australian workforce who are ‘for’ workplace temperature checks, or the 21% who either aren’t sure or are against?

No one wants to breathe Brian from Accounts’ recycled snot spray (pic related). That’s a given. The real question is how much of our personal information are we willing to share with our employers so it doesn’t happen again?

This is just one of myriad questions businesses are coming to grips with as Australian businesses prepare for a wide-scale return to work. 

Unsurprisingly, Privacy advocates aren’t massive fans – citing a further erosion of personal privacy at the hands of faceless corporations and Big Brother as their main concern. But this where does that leave an employer who can’t promise to provide a safe, healthy workplace as a result?

Presenteeism, or turning up to work despite being a hot, snotty mess (or similar), costs the Australian economy $34 billion annually (according to Pathology Awareness Australia, 1996). It works like this: you bring illness into the workplace, others get sick, their productivity is affected (as well as their health), and the merry dance continues all cold and flu season each and every year.

So, does our right to privacy outweigh our right to a safe, healthy workplace?

Can temperatures be taken safely, effectively and cost effectively without infringing heavily on privacy?

Or, did Australia learn enough about our collective ability to successfully work from home to stop Presenteeism without technological interference?

Stand-alone, contactless temperature scanners are already being used by the AFL, on Channel 9’s The Block, at some of Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools, plus a range of other sites including gyms, offices and construction sites.

Which might just prove that if the workplace is willing and the numbers stack up, temperature scanning could be coming to get your workplace back to normal – whether you want to call it the ‘new normal’ or not.

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