Using GPS to track your employees is a fundamental question asked by many, we ask ourselves “is it even legal to track our employees?” the question, however, depends on a couple of factors. In an office system, workers are always expected to respond to their emails immediately since they are always either in front of their computer or with their mobile devices that could receive mails. Concerning the legality of GPS technology and employees privacy, some countries address this law in their constitutions. In cases where they are not addressed, employers can consult case laws but even this is not usually enough.
There are a couple of reasons why employers may want to track their employees, this could include wanting to know if employees are working when they say they are working. In the transportation industries where vehicles are used for daily work. GPS can help with driver’s navigation and also help direct them to location. In industries that require transportation and conveying e.g. E-transports like Uber, Lyft and Taxify. There is usually a need to use GPS to know what employees are closer to the site where they are needed.
Off duty and on duty
GPS trackers are sometimes placed on employees to know whether they are working during their work time as they claim they are, it isn’t usually a problem since an agreement is usually reached, the employee is usually aware of the fact that a tracker is placed on him/her. This is usually for evaluation to know and monitor how much they are working or to even know if they are working or just slacking off, this will enable know when to terminate employment. While on duty you are expected to be at work post and not leave when you’d be leaving permission should be taken and as soon as it is approved there is no problem whatsoever. Geolocation technology is used for a couple of purposes, they could be to:
- comply with meal and rest breaks
- recovery of stolen company vehicle
- locating the vehicle in time of emergencies like accidents
- checking employees efficiencies
While off duty, it would be very wrong and privacy breeching to track your employees. Whatever they do or engage in outside work hours shouldn’t be within the companies concern, there have been cases where employees have had to sue their employers for spying on them while off duty. Everyone is entitled to a life and should be allowed to engage in or do whatever they might feel like. Infringement into privacy is a big deal and can attract a major court fine if an employer is found guilty of such, it is required employees know about GPS trackers and agree to whatever the company is bringing. Employees should be made to understand they do not have the same privacy at home and at work, this depending on whatever the company does.
Why do employers track employees?
It’s not entirely new that employers track their employees, in fact, it is gradually becoming a rather common practice in the industry. Naturally, any employer could always be curious about what is going in their company and what their employees are mostly doing, they always want to keep an eye on their equipment. This could be a van or even a cell phone issued by the employer, they track to ensure employees are entering and leaving their workplace on time. Some employers want to know their employees are reporting their movements to them, not detouring in between work hours to finish their home chores. Some benefits of tracking employees are:
- getting travel routes of mobile employees especially the delivery staff
- maintaining safety regulations are adhered to by ensuring road safety rules are adhered to e.g. over speeding and reckless driving
- Monitoring time spent by employers at work and comparing with their time card and records.
- Missing drivers can be tracked and found using GPS technology.
But before starting this tracking process, it is good to note and ensure you’re not breaching privacy or trespassing and that all legal obligations have been settled. Employees should also ensure they do not breach the trust of employers.
Getting a relevant reason to track employees
Before you decide to track your employees and their activities, you must come up with good enough reasons that could stand and are reasonable. Otherwise, your employees might believe you to be infringing on their privacy for no tangible reason. Here are some satisfactory reasons:
- Increase the efficiency of travel routes
- Improve response time of employees to customers request
- Increase productivity generally
- Locate where about of employees quickly to assign them to particular areas or task
- To prevent loss of working hours
Some countries permit placing of trackers in the company’s equipment such as phones, laptops, tablets, and even vehicles just to know is being done and to trace in time of theft. It is important to let the employee know of the tracker so as to be transparent and to also ensure a quick response to challenges raised by employees. Consent is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked, country laws speak of it in their laws. If you want to track your employees, it should only be during the work period as mentioned earlier.
Great GPS tracking practices
You might be tracking employees to increase efficiency, ensure safety standards compliance or for workers investigation when they aren’t fulfilling their contract objective. The following practice is good to know:
- Proper knowledge of the law in your region or country, also respect privacy while following legal requirements
- GPS tracking should only be done on the company’s property and not private property, this could start legal complications.
- Employees should be tracked only to the limits of business requirements. No personal or private tracking should be done.
- Having a signed and written agreement clearly stating the tracking procedures and its limits.
- Be considerate and responsible for data.
In conclusion, as there are many reasons a company might want to track its employees, it should be done within legal terms and agreements. This tracking should not violate the personal life of the workers involved.