Employers looking to Monitor Workers with Wearable Technology May Face Big Legal Hurdles

"Big Brother" may become a reality if employers across the world start monitoring their employees with wearable technology. This technology is intended to help businesses by tracking inventory and guiding workers through large workplaces. The designers say it also makes workers "more productive in general". But legal professionals worry that these devices can be intrusive and used for purposes that may infringe on employees legal rights. 

Wearable gear for employees is on the rise all over the world. Businesses that manufacture the equipment saw sales increases of over 65% last year alone. These figures are likely to rise as over 86% of the companies in a recent survey in the United States indicated they plan to take a serious look at uses for the technology and invest in it. The employee tracking technology business is in its infancy and it looks to really boom in the coming years.

Does the technology work? Companies that already use it report productivity increases on the average of 8.5%. The technology performs well at reducing theft by taking inventory as workers unload trucks, helping establish new production metrics that will lead to improvements. It also has the capability of tracking meetings between individual departments in a company to see how often they interact on projects. The technology has virtually limitless applications that can help businesses in many areas.

The question is when does this technology cross the line and infringe upon employees legal rights? When these devices are worn they also have the ability to identify physical disabilities in an employee that may lead to termination. They can also collect personal data on employees that does not relate to the business. In addition, employee monitoring devices such as those that include video can infringe on an employee’s privacy rights and give bosses the ability to monitor each employee the entire time they are working.

Some experts also argue that if these devices are worn by employees and production and profit increase, then those employees may have legal rights to a percentage of those profits as well. It will be interesting to see if the courts need to draw the line on the use of these devices as more and more companies choose to rely on this technology in the future.