According to a report in The Independent, a number of companies are currently in the habit of using insurers and employee wellness firms in an effort to gain access to data which will assist in their assessment of an employee's healthcare needs.

In addition to predicting requirements with regards general health, this practice also allows companies to gain an insight into whether their female employees' intend to start a family.

In fact, it is understood that Castlight, a healthcare information company, have recently launched a product which utilises insurance claims in order to ascertain whether a woman has stopped receiving prescriptions for contraceptives such as birth control pills.

This product acts as an indicator of the woman's intents by matching the information with the age of the woman in addition to the number of children she already has in order to establish the likelihood of a future pregnancy,

According to The Independent, Jonathan Rende, Castlight's chief research and development officer, explains that this practice would then set in motion a succession of emails to the female employee which offer advice on obstetric and prenatal care.

Unsurprisingly, this practice has been subject to intense criticism, with experts in the field insisting that the use of employee data in such a manner may impinge on a worker's health privacy.

Highlighting the potential pitfalls associated with the controversial practice, Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland law professor, asserted: "There are enormous potential risks in these efforts, such as the exposure of personal health data to employers or others."

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