GPS Trackers And The Law - What You Need To Know If You're Monitoring Employees

One of the most useful applications of GPS tracking technology is in fleet vehicles. If your company operates a fleet of vehicles, whether for sales, distribution or delivery, GPS trackers can help you monitor the efficiency of your fleet. You can use tracking technology to gather information on fuel consumption, to find more efficient routes, to check on driver productivity and to create any number of other reports that can help your company improve its efficiency and cut costs.  

Companies of all sizes are using GPS

It used to only be large international companies who made use of fleet tracking technology, as they have literally hundreds of vehicles throughout the world to keep tabs on. However, GPS tracking has now filtered down to smaller fleets and smaller companies. Many businesses now use GPS to track company cars, to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity, and also to ensure that rights to use company cars (and claim fuel expenses) are not being abused. Male employee driving GPS Tracked company car

However, fleet managers need to be careful when tracking employees in company-owned vehicles. If they aren’t aware of the legal issues surrounding tracking and monitoring, they could end up violating the privacy of their employees and end up in very hot water indeed. Breaking the rules relating to tracking and privacy could potentially result in some very hefty penalties indeed, as well as breaking the trust between the employees and the company. These are both very good reasons why it’s crucial to take the time to familiarise yourself with the law on vehicle tracking before starting to use tracking devices.

GPS trackers and the law - 5 essential points to remember

While it’s also worth doing further research on the legalities of GPS tracking in order to provide the company with watertight protection should an issue arise, here are the 5 essential points you need to remember right now:

  • You must never monitor an employee’s whereabouts outside of work time. Most courts would agree that private tracking – tracking outside of work hours – is highly inappropriate and a breach of an employee’s privacy. It’s very bad practice and can lead to a complete breakdown in worker-company relations, and could even result in legal action and a case being brought against you in an employment tribunal. It’s a good idea to be very vigilant about when tracking devices are being switched on and monitored, and keep records which demonstrate that at no point have you broken the rules.
  • You should make your employees aware that tracking technology will be used. This isn’t demanded by any particular law, but it can save a lot of trouble later on. Making the employee fully aware of the tracking device and even including them in the decision to use GPS, can potentially improve productivity too. The employee knows that they are being tracked, and they know that the fleet manager is monitoring all of the vital statistics. This can make them more mindful of putting in a good performance during the working day and not taking advantage of the relative freedom available away from the strict office environment. You can make it a condition of using a company vehicle that tracking technology will be used during working hours, something that the employee is fully informed about and agrees to before they can take receipt of the car keys. This then forms a clear agreement between company and employee.
  • GPS tracking should be built into your company’s electronic surveillance policy (if you have one). If you want to start tracking company vehicles, you absolutely must lay down the terms of how it will work in a clear, detailed and comprehensive official company policy. Consult an expert on this and make sure that it protects your company, and its employees, as much as possible.
  • There must be a legitimate business reason for tracking an employee vehicle. If questioned, your company must be able to prove that it had a legitimate business reason for installing GPS trackers on its vehicles. Possible reasons include monitoring and improving fleet efficiency, improving customer service (i.e. speeding up delivery times by choosing more efficient routes), monitoring worker productivity or reducing fuel consumption across the fleet.
  • It is recommended to carry out an impact assessment first. This is yet another way of covering the company in case of a complaint or problem arising. Carry out a full assessment of the benefits of using GPS tracking technology and the possible impact on employees. Look at risks, worst-case scenarios and consider legal issues such as data protection and potential breaches of privacy. If you can show that you have carefully considered all of the possible implications, and put measures in place to prevent problems, this will put you in a much stronger position if any complaint should ever be made.

Monitoring male driver employee in new company car

Should companies give employees control over tracking?

Some companies have found that they can keep everything legal and above-board, as well as keeping employees happy, by letting the employee take control of when their vehicle is being tracked. This may seem counter to what you’re trying to achieve (namely – keeping an eye on what an employee is up to) but it can work really well. The employee has full awareness of the tracking technology and enters into an agreement with the company. Such an agreement would stipulate that use of a company car is subject to switching tracking technology on at their designated work start time and off again at the end of the working day. This allows the employer to monitor what they need to, such as fuel consumption, route efficiency and worker productivity. Just as crucially, such an arrangement also keeps intact the trusting relationship between business and staff member.