Months after teachers protested, even went to court, against the enforcement of an attendance app by the South and North Delhi Municipal Corporations (DMC), the East DMC has now mandated a similar app on its nearly 20,000 employees, MediaNama has learnt. A circular issued on November 12, viewed by MediaNama, said that employees not logging their attendance on the app will not get their salaries from December 1.
Brijesh Singh, the Chief Accountant and Financial Advisor to the EDMC, told MediaNama that the app was somewhat different from the ones adopted by other municipal bodies in Delhi and was developed by the National Informatics Centre.
Teacher unions at the South and North DMCs had earlier protested such an app, fearing that their privacy could be violated as the app uses constant geo-tracking and requires storage access to their personal phones. While teachers at the NDMC held meetings with the mayor, SDMC teachers moved the Delhi High Court against the app; the matter is pending and the next hearing is scheduled for March 2022.
Features of the EDMC attendance app
- Attendance marking through a photograph: Employees would have to take a photograph of themselves to mark their attendance on the app, Singh said.
- No constant location monitoring: Singh said that through the app, employees’ locations are not tracked at all times but only when they log their attendance. However, they have to log their attendance multiple times during the day.
- Integrated with the EDMC’s IT system: Their attendance data would be linked to their employee ID and integrated with the larger IT system built by the NIC for EDMC – this consists of multiple apps. Singh said that the data can then be viewed by the finance department and the heads of other departments.
Issues with the previous app
- Lack of access to smartphones: Teachers said that with online classes taking place, they sometimes leave their phones with their children to study. Thus, they may not have their phones with them at all times.
Revert to older methods: Teachers suggested that municipalities go back to logging the teachers’ attendance through biometric scanning (for schools run by SDMC) or through the NDMC online portal which could be accessed through the government-issued desktop at each school as done before.
Previous attempts at tracking employees digitally
Earlier, various municipal corporations and departments under state governments have enforced measures to track their employees – many of these measures have received backlash from the employees.
In May 2019, Outlook magazine reported how private companies were using geo-tagging to track their employees.
In October 2020, sanitation workers in Chandigarh were tracked by their supervisors through GPS-enabled smartwatches.
In June 2021, ASHA workers under the National Health Mission in Haryana reportedly protested an app that they were required to use so that their daily targets could be tracked and updated.
- Asha healthcare workers protest “surveillance” tracking app: Report
- “Bonded Labour”: sanitation workers in Chandigarh protest against being forced to wear GPS tracking devices
- #PrivacyNama2021: Taking stock of biometric data collection and regulation
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