Big Brother fears of ‘Wearables’ at Work

From health monitoring to managing your day to day activities, wearable technology has become a booming market over the past few years. However, a study by PwC has shown that although such technology is becoming increasingly common, ingenious and popular, people would be mistrustful if such gadgets were to become a requirement of their workplace.   Some larger corporate employers offer private medical insurance to employees, and already, certain insurance policies offer fitness/ health monitoring devices to employees, with rewards and incentives for achieving certain health targets. This information would typically be held by the insurance provider, rather than the employer.

Although employees are keen for their employers to take an interest in their health and wellbeing, the wearing of a device directly provided by their employer has been meet with concern that personal information could be misused. The so-called ‘millennials’ proved to be the most receptive to increased technology in their lives, whilst the over 55’s remained the most resistant. However, the study also showed that people might be happier to accept a wearable device in return for flexible hours and remote working.

Whatever the future holds, it is important for employers to remember that the use of such technology needs to be compliant with data protection legislation and ideally supported by a clearly drafted policy in the staff handbook.

Dominic Bonham