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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Hard workplace reality: The heightened pandemic-era surveillance that workers thought was temporary is showing signs of longevity.

Why it matters: The pandemic popularized surveillance and data collection as America's workforce rapidly pivoted to remote work.

  • It ranged from temperature-reading infrared cameras to detect fevers among warehouse employees to keystroke-tracking programs to monitor remote workers’ activity.

The big picture: 60% of large employers now track and monitor their workers and that's expected to grow, Gartner human resources research head Brian Kropp told the Washington Post.

Attorney Kerrie Krutchik shared her experience with the Post:

  • Krutchik's work laptop included facial recognition software that required her to do a three-angle sign-in each time she looked away too long.
  • “It’s just this constant, unnecessary, nerve-racking stress: You’re trying to concentrate and in the back of your mind you know you’re on camera the entire time,” she said. “While you’re reviewing a document, you don’t know who is reviewing you.”
  • She quit two weeks later.

The bottom line: Employers have broad rights to keep an eye on workers, with the limits often governed by what employees will tolerate, Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried notes.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

New York City announces COVID vaccine mandate for all public workers

A health care worker administering a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a student in Staten Island in August. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced an expanded COVID-19 vaccine mandate that covers all of the city's public employees, including police officers and firefighters.

Why it matters: Around 71% of city workers have already satisfied the mandate by receiving at least one dose. The remaining 46,000 unvaccinated employees will have to receive their first dose by Oct. 29 or will risk being placed on unpaid leave until they can show proof of a first dose, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Updated Oct 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.

Updated 57 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.