University of Wisconsin–Madison

Warning: Bossware May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2021
Level National, State
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Data & Technology, Health
Bossware refers to systems that closely monitor and actively manage workers’ activities and performance. In particular, modern worker monitoring technologies (i.e. sensors and cameras that track workers’ physical movements, handheld scanners scanners that track each item a warehouse worker scans, etc) allow companies to monitor workers’ physical movements and pace of work in unprecedented detail. Companies are using bossware to discourage and penalize lawful, health-enhancing employee conduct (such as taking rest breaks) and enforce a faster work pace with reduced downtime. These tactics increase the risk of psychological harm and mental health problems for workers. This report outlines current legal protections for workers and provides recommendations for policymakers and enforcement agencies to mitigate the harmful effects of bossware.

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