On Monday, Apple unveiled its new MacBook (which is as pretty as it is light and nimble), number of new health related apps called “ResearchKit” (that claim to be able to help diagnose and monitor the progress of diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s) and the much anticipated Apple Watch. The watch appears to work like an iPhone, letting you send and receive text messages, check music, use Uber, unlock your hotel room and pay for stuff – as well as make and receive phone calls. (In fact, you have to have an iPhone to make the watch work.) The watch also has a built in health conscious app that nudges you when you’ve been sitting for too long, tracks your steps and monitors other health factors.
While it appeared that they were still working out some of the kinks and they haven’t solved the problem of “how does a 45+ year old set of eyes see something quite that small without embarrassing your children by holding the phone that close to your face,” most of the live chats and bloggers that we monitored during the launch seemed pretty impressed with what Apple was hawking.
Of course, then the lawyers have to weigh in.
The release of the Apple Watch and ResearchKit reinforce the need for employers to consider the impact wearable technology has on how their companies keep time records, track employee working time versus “off the clock” activities, and enforces existing EEO (anti-discrimination, harassment or retaliation) policies as well as how all of these technological advancements will interact with existing federal and state labor, employment and wage & hour laws.
There are so many exciting ways this emerging technology can be used in the work place: from new training opportunities, to innovative forms of employee collaboration; to tracking and monitoring employee performance and productivity. But this technology also brings new issues related to maintaining confidential business information, employee personal health information, and data security issues; workplace safety and employee/employer expectations regarding privacy in the workplace. Even forward thinking employers willing to embrace this new technology with open arms (or available wrist space) should take the time to review (and most likely update) their existing policies and procedures.
We’ll be monitoring the issues and questions that the latest Apple gadget(s) and other wearable technology pose to employers and keeping you up to date on all the latest gear. If you have questions, feel free to contact the author, who is a member of Seyfarth’s Social Media Team or your Seyfarth lawyer.