Employers using fitness trackers to watch employees, report claims

February 21, 2019 - Comment

A growing number of employers are using activity trackers to monitor their employees at work. The company-issued fitness gadgets are handed out with the promise of workplace incentives like bonus payouts if the staff reach their step goals. But naturally, it also supplies bosses with detailed information on how their employees are behaving – including


A growing number of employers are using activity trackers to monitor their employees at work.

The company-issued fitness gadgets are handed out with the promise of workplace incentives like bonus payouts if the staff reach their step goals.

But naturally, it also supplies bosses with detailed information on how their employees are behaving – including when they’re at their desks and when they’re not.

The growing trend has been picked up by The Washington Post, which noted that there are some privacy implications as well as the fact that it’s just a little creepy.

Activity trackers from your boss? Hmmm (Getty)

‘The more that employers know about their employees’ lives, especially outside the workplace, off-duty hours, the more potential control or effects they have on their lives in the first place,’ Lee Tien with consumer privacy advocate the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Post.

‘It’s quite possible there will be effects on whether you are retained, promoted, demoted – who is first to be laid off.’

At present, the schemes that the Post highlights are opt-in. The trackers are often provided free of charge or at a very small fee through an insurance provider.

Employers could use the trackers to see whether employees are at their desks or not (Getty)

Approximately 20 percent of employers who provide health insurance said they collected data from wearable devices in 2018, which is a marked increase from the 14 percent who did the year before. This data is often not only shared with bosses, but also the devicemaker, health insurance companies and other parties, the Post said.

Still, it could be worse: some companies are happy to microchip their workers.

Biohax, a Swedish company that provides human chip implants, told the Daily Telegraph it was ‘in talks’ with a number of UK legal and financial firms to implant staff with the devices.

Apparently, one client has ‘hundreds of thousands of employees’ and probably believes that injecting chips into their workers is easier than issuing them with a security pass. ‘These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with,” Jowan Österlund, the founder of Biohax, told the paper.



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