QUESTION: I have a question about the legal ramifications of asking employees not to wear smartwatches, e.g., Apple watches. They understand that no cell phones are allowed while they’re working; however, since smartwatches have become so popular, many people use them instead. Please advise.
ANSWER: Being allowed to wear a smartwatch is not legally protected by any law. Like cell phones, these kinds of things can be controlled and managed by employers. You will need to ensure you are consistent with all employees. For example, if you plan to ban them, then that rule needs to apply to all employees, even the best ones and those who don’t check the watches all the time.
You need to establish a policy about what you will or will not allow and make sure everyone is clear about your expectations. Once you do that, you can hold people accountable to this policy and speak with those who don't adhere to the rules.
You could also simply talk to the problem employees if they're looking at or using their smartwatches and this is getting in the way of their job. In this case, you wouldn't put a rule on everyone, but you'd simply be addressing those employees who can't manage the watch and their time appropriately.
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