Barclays scraps 'Big Brother' staff

tracking system

Barclays says it has scrapped a system that tracked the time employees spent at their desks and sent warnings to those spending too long on breaks.

The bank introduced the computer monitoring system last week, but faced a staff backlash, reported by City AM. Barclays said axing the tracking system was a response to "colleague feedback", but would not say if it was permanent.

The software, Sapience, claims to create "unprecedented transparency" within companies. "It also determines when an employee goes offline for periods of time," the software firm's website says. A Barclays source said the tool was used to monitor the "effectiveness" of people's time at their desks.

But in addition to sparking unease within the bank, it attracted criticism from privacy campaigners and HR professionals. Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said "intrusive monitoring" deprived staff of privacy in the workplace.

"Managers would never get away with breathing down employee's necks, personally monitoring their screens or logging toilet and water breaks," she said. "The availability of technology to [monitor] staff surreptitiously does not make it any more acceptable."

She described the software as "creepy" and called on Barclays to "urgently review" its use.

Barclays said the software was part of a pilot that was rolled out in part of its investment banking division.

But after the City AM newspaper revealed details of the scheme and published damning comments from an employee who spoke to the paper anonymously, Barclays said managers would no longer be able to track the activities of individual workers.

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