With the help of GPS technology, employers have been able to track their mobile or field employees’ locations through GPS devices installed in vehicles. With more advanced technology, employers can now track their locations through GPS apps, time tracking software, or other time clock apps, on employee smartphones. While tracking has various benefits, it also presents several risks. Before deciding to track an employee using GPS, employers need to consider the privacy issues and legal ramifications involved.
GPS Tracking Employees Laws
If you have a new startup with employees, you may be wondering what is the best way to keep track of their schedules. One way to boost staff productivity is to ensure they are working when they are supposed to be. This article outlines some of the best practices involved when it comes to GPS tracking of employees by employers.
Monitoring Employee Vehicles
Before anything, an employer should consider any state laws regarding GPS tracking of individuals. For instance, it is a criminal misdemeanor to use GPS to track the location of a vehicle in the state of Illinois without the vehicle owner’s consent. The only exception is when tracking is lawfully done by a law enforcement agency.
An employer doesn’t violate this law by tracking a vehicle owned by the company that is being used by employees on the job because the employer, in this case, is the owner of the vehicle and consents to the tracking. Other states such as Texas, Delaware, California and Connecticut also have laws that specifically apply to GPS tracking.
Second, employers should consider state laws that it may violate by tracking employees without their consent or knowledge, such as t
he invasion of privacy. As such an employer may consider notifying employees that it might use GPS monitoring in connection with employee use of company property.
The law is less clear, however, when employees use their personal vehicles for company business.
When it comes to tracking employees’ locations through smartphones, there’s much less clarity in the law. In May 2015, a company was sued by a former employee for invasion of privacy, wrongful termination, retaliation, unfair business practices and other claims after she was fired for uninstalling a GPS app from a smartphone she was issued by the company. The case eventually settled out of court but it implicates issues faced by employers wishing to track employees through company-issued smartphones.
Best Practices for Tracking
Here are some of the best practices employers should consider implementing before using GPS tracking to monitor employees
- Familiarizing with the laws applicable to privacy expectations and GPS tracking of devices and/or vehicles in their respective states.
- Only monitor employees to the extent that it’s justified by a business need.
- Only use GPS tracking in employer-owned devices or vehicles.
- Writing a GPS tracking policy that outlines the reasons for using GPS tracking, how the employer will use and safeguard the data as well as how and when employees should expect to be monitored.
- Finally, be considerate and responsible. For instance, only monitor employee activity during working hours, and only monitor their location for specific business purposes outlined in your GPS tracking policy.
Advancements in technology give employers greater access to their employees today than ever before. While there may be legitimate reasons to track employees, it’s important to understand the GPS tracking employees laws to ensure they’re not violating employee’s trust and privacy or violating applicable laws.