The staff at Hebo Technology in Hangzhou, China, originally were fine with the smart cushions after their employer told them they were for monitoring vital health signs. On top of angry staff, the firm also may have legal troubles to deal with, a lawyer noted.
One worker with the surname Wang posted about her experience online, with internet users chiming in and scolding the company to “butt out” of tracking its employees’ whereabouts.
“The data collected–such as when you are at your seat, when you are not, when you become emotional–is all in the hands of your boss,” Wang posted. “What’s more, the human resources department will check this data. Does it mean that our work performance will be assessed based on this information too?”
The firm denied it used the cushions to monitor its employees’ behavior. But Yang Wenzhan, an attorney from the Beijing Zhongdun Law Office, said that the company may have acted illegally in sharing data with other employees, namely the HR department.
“If the company has informed the workers about the testing and has obtained their consent, the testing programme is legal,” Yang said. “But these documents are both in English. Can it guarantee that the employees are clearly aware of the content [in the documents]?”
Yang also noted that data provided to HR violates “the company’s initial promise that it would keep the data secret.”