Chamber of Commerce calls for worker ID cards

The Czech Chamber of Commerce has called for the introduction of an electronic identification card system for workers. The Chamber’s President says the card should record the details of a person’s employment, medical examinations and training courses attended. It should include training on occupational health and safety, and records of arrivals to and departures from the workplace. The Chamber says the entire project should be financed by the Czech government.


The Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic (HK ČR) is an organisation with a voluntary membership representing the interests of 14,000 entrepreneurs and businesses. The Chamber has called for compulsory electronic identification cards to be introduced for employees in the country, including civil servants, the self-employed and entrepreneurs.

The Chamber wants the card to record the details of a person’s employment, their medical examinations and any training courses attended. It should also include training on occupational health and safety, and records of arrivals to and departures from work. The Chamber says the scheme should be paid for by public funds.

Aims of the e-cards

The reason behind the e-card project, according to Petr Kužel, the Chamber’s President, is to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and help speed up inspections at workplaces. He said:

If such an electronic card is launched, a worker could be checked very easily. Documents in paper form would not be necessary any more. We would know where a person came from, what he or she did in the past and what his or her qualifications are. These are the facts that will help employers, employees and, last but not least, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic that sends one inspector after another to companies.

Mr Kužel said an ID card scheme would leave the Ministry of Labour (MPSV ČR) and its inspectors free to focus on illegal work detection, particularly in the area of bogus self-employment which entrepreneurs regard as a pressing problem.

He added that he had a letter from one company saying that the State Labour Inspection Office (SUIP) had visited their premises 19 times in one year, even though no problems had been found during any of the previous inspection visits. ‘They check the already-checked,’ concluded Mr Kužel.

The Chamber of Commerce is waiting for the MPSV’s response. Its support would be needed to launch the card and if it backs the introduction of work cards, they could, according to Mr Kužel, be introduced as early as in 2014.

However, the current priority for MPSV is the introduction of a new civil service computer system that could improve the effectiveness of public services by reducing bureaucracy. Electronic ID cards may not therefore be on the agenda in the immediate future.

Trade unions saying no to work e-cards

Trade union leaders, including Josef Středula, Chair of the Czech Metalworker’s Federation (OS KOVO), were largely opposed to the Chamber’s proposal. Mr Středula warned:

After bad experiences in recent years with the implementation of various information systems, I would be very cautious. Private data from those systems have regularly found their way into the wrong hands. Misuse of similar systems resulted in dismissals of people who strived, in compliance with law, to form a trade union or were union officials.

In Mr Středula’s opinion, work cards also contravened the Act no. 101/2000 Coll. on Personal Data Protection. He said there was a human dimension to the issue, adding:

An employee may have made a mistake when performing his job and consequently he may be dismissed. In a new job he would like to make a new start and rectify the mistake. Should a person’s record from another job automatically disqualify them when they are looking for a new job? Why should the work e-card collect sensitive data that can be misused?

Mr Středula argued that electronic cards should be primarily for the self-employed and for entrepreneurs. This would make it easier to trace the history of a person, and find out, for instance, whether they had ever been declared bankrupt.

Soňa Veverková, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs

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