Technology & Wearables

Fitness Trackers in the Workplace: Should You be Promoted for Wearing One?

As reported by Readwrite News, an increasing number of employees are wearing health tracking devices in the workplace in an attempt to improve productivity levels. A recent study conducted by Rackspace seems to support this theory.

The study, which included 120 workers from an office in London, determined employees who wore wearable fitness trackers were nine percent more productive overall.

In addition to improving productivity, wearables are also becoming an integral part of many corporate wellness plans. The devices can track employee activity levels, sleep patterns, and food choices, all of which encourage employees to live a healthier lifestyle.

Having healthy workers often means companies pay lower premiums for employee health insurance-a big financial incentive for many businesses. In fact, incorporating wearables into an employee wellness plan to increase productivity and decrease the cost of insurance is a rising trend.

However, not everyone is convinced fitness trackers create a win-win situation for employees and companies alike. Labor lawyers are particularly concerned about businesses using wearables to justify employee promotions or pay raises.

As discussed recently at the National Symposium on Technology in Labor and Employment Law in Washington, D.C., employers who seek to reward employees based on information gathered from a wearable fitness device are venturing into murky legal waters.

Having access to an employee's biometric data is, by most accounts, a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA"). Additionally, using wearables to provide evidence for promotions or pay increases could potentially violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA prohibits discrimination based on an employee's health status. While the line between employee monitoring and employee discrimination isn't entirely clear, most people agree a competent employee shouldn't be passed over for a promotion because a current health situation prevents them from taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Currently, it's not yet known if using wearables to justify promotions is actually unlawful employee surveillance cleverly disguised. But there's something that is known: wearable health trackers are climbing the ranks of corporate wellness plans faster than the most productive (and most promoted?) employee, and they're here to stay.


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