Keypoint: If properly deployed, the use of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps by employers, in combination with other measures, could be an effective way to return employees to the workforce. However, before deploying these apps, employers should take caution to fully vet the technologies being used to ensure that employee privacy is respected.
As the United States and Europe have started the process of returning to work, the development, deployment, and use of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps has become a focal point for how governments intend to mitigate risk. China, Singapore, and South Korea have already implemented national contact-tracing apps. European countries and Australia have been rapidly working towards their deployment.
In connection with the rapid development of governmental contact-tracing apps, tech companies have started to develop similar apps for employers. A handful of employer-focused contact-tracing apps are already on the market and many more are in development. Some employers are already planning to deploy these apps. For example, Ferrari recently announced that it will utilize a contact-tracing app as part of its “Back on Track” plan.
The use of these apps raises numerous privacy concerns for U.S. employers. As employers begin to vet these apps, they will need to ensure that they do not unintentionally violate privacy laws or assume liabilities by deploying them with their workforce.