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Is wearable tech in the workplace a good idea?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2016 | Workplace Retaliation

It’s no secret: fit, healthy employees are better employees. They are less likely to get sick, have more energy and confidence, have a better attitude and suffer less from stress.

In recent years, large and mid-size companies have jumped on the fitness bandwagon, offering fitness programs and providing incentives for employees to get and remain healthy. Companies today often provide health club or HSA reimbursement, walk challenges, paramedical services, and longer “fitness” lunch breaks which allow for exercise.

With the growing popularity of wearable tech, some companies even provide fitness devices like pedometers or heart monitors to their employees to encourage them to get out and get moving. But what does this mean for employees’ health privacy?

The pros of having wearable tech

Health and fitness trackers can record a bunch of useful data, like steps, sleep quality, calorie intake, calories burned, heart rate, blood glucose levels, stress levels and more. All of this data helps users to identify trends or habits.

For employees, keeping track of bad habits can lead to making more positive lifestyle changes. For employers, data tracking can lead to better health coverage offerings or health initiatives likely to actually help employees.

The cons of wearable tech in the workplace

However, many have raised concerns about personal, private information falling into the wrong hands or actually being used against the employee. Since these devices measure and record so many aspects of your life, an employer could gain insight into your personal habits, moods, lifestyle and overall health.

At the very least, this is an invasion of your privacy. Some fear that unscrupulous employers could inappropriately track your activity and productivity using data gathered by wearable tech. Even worse, data could be used to retaliate against employees who are at risk due to unhealthy habits or trends.

Let the wearer beware

Wearable tech isn’t going away, so each consumer needs to determine both the risks and benefits. Before committing to any wearable tech, it’s a good idea to research the company’s policies on how it collects and uses data, as well as its security policies for the technology and device itself.

If you feel you have been discriminated or retaliated against because of wearable technology, talk with a skilled employment lawyer about your next steps.