Gavel and legal books on white background.

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

Companies of all sizes are using GPS

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

However, fleet managers must 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. Breaking the tracking and privacy rules could result in very hefty penalties and break the trust between the employees and the company. These are both very good reasons why taking the time to familiarise yourself with the law on vehicle tracking before using tracking devices is crucial.

GPS Trackers and the law - 5 essential points to remember

While it's also worth doing further research on the legalities of GPS tracking to provide the company with watertight protection should an issue arises, 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 outside work hours is highly inappropriate and breaches an employee's privacy. It's a very bad practice that can lead to a complete breakdown in worker-company relations and even result in legal action and a case being brought against you in an employment tribunal. It's a good idea to be vigilant about when tracking devices are switched on and monitored and keep records demonstrating that you have never broken the rules.
  • You should make your employees aware that tracking technology will be used. Any particular law doesn't demand this, but it can save a lot of trouble later on. Making the employee fully aware of the tracking device and including them in GPS can also improve productivity. 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 performing well during the working day and not taking advantage of the relative freedom 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 the company and the 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 must lay down the terms of how it will work in a clear, detailed and comprehensive official company policy. Please consult an expert on this and ensure it protects your company and its employees as much as possible.
  • There must be a legitimate business reason for tracking an employee's 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 another way of covering the company in case a complaint or problem arises. Carry out a full assessment of the benefits of using GPS tracking technology and the possible impact on employees. Look at risks and worst-case scenarios and consider legal issues such as data protection and potential privacy breaches. 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.

Should companies give employees control over their tracking?

Some companies have found that they can keep everything legal and above-board and keep 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 well. The employee has full awareness of the tracking technology and agrees with the company.

Such an agreement would stipulate that the 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, such as fuel consumption, route efficiency and worker productivity. Such an arrangement also keeps the trusting relationship between the business and staff members intact.