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Employee's Checklist of Issues to be Cautious of Employer GPS Tracking

Written by Contributor, on 18th Dec 2017. Posted in General

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Today’s GPS technology has brought numerous improvements to our lives, making it far easier to navigate unfamiliar areas, drive almost any route successfully, and help save lives in search-and-rescue operations.

However, for all its good, the ability to track individuals’ every move at any time does pose problems – particularly with regards to personal privacy.

More and more businesses are embracing the latest technological trends to boost their productivity, and GPS tracking is just one tool employers are using to monitor their workers.

This may take various forms, depending on your role and industry. For example, a cargo firm may integrate GPS tracking into their fleet of vehicles to asses drivers’ behaviour (such as miles driven in one day, routes taken, fuel efficiency), while others might provide workers with mobile apps designed to keep track of their activities.

If your company is preparing to do this, or already is, what issues should you be concerned about?

Is There a Legitimate Reason for Tracking?

The legalities of GPS employee tracking are something of a grey area, but a business should have good reason for wanting to track its employees regardless.

For example, if a digital marketing agency believes that members of their team may be visiting competitors with an aim to sell potentially-damaging information, then tracking workers for a brief time is likely to bring the perpetrator to light. Simply the threat of tracking may be enough.

Likewise, a trucking company could suspect some of their drivers are claiming more in fuel expenses than they actually should.

Employers should only add GPS tracking to equipment they own and that is used during working hours only.

Does it Affect Your Privacy?

Following on from the above, if the GPS tracking is installed on any devices that you use outside of your role too, this should be discussed with employees carefully beforehand.

Privacy laws are becoming more and more crucial in today’s world, with technology connecting us to each other 24/7. Your employers should provide all employees with detailed information on the reasons behind their decision to introduce GPS tracking, and how this will work on a daily basis.

What type of information will they record, and why? How will said data be used in the long run, and what improvements will it lead to?

Being aware of employees’ privacy is critical to maintain their trust. Workers are unlikely to accept tracking without good reason, and those in highly-skilled roles may well find motivation to seek employment elsewhere.

Will it Record Information on Your Behaviour Outside Work?

Employers have the ability today to install apps on work phones with GPS tracking. These will enable businesses to monitor their workers’ movements throughout their shifts, assessing their behaviour from the first minute to the last.

This may be unsettling for employees, but work phones are typically shut off outside of working hours (unless you have to remain on-call, for one reason or another). However, in some cases, employers could wish to install their tracking apps on employees’ personal phones.

This would be more of an invasion of privacy, and so employers would need to give training on how to switch said app / software off outside working hours. There is no reason for a business to know what their workers are doing in their own time, and no real justification can be given for doing so.

While the laws surrounding employee tracking tend to be unclear, employees should never be afraid to question businesses’ motivations. Complaints about invasions of privacy may develop into serious issues that reflect badly on the business itself, creating a negative image – and potentially costing them future custom.

Has an Impact Assessment Been Performed?

Performing an impact assessment helps companies to cover themselves before integrating GPS tracking of employees into their operations.

Employers should perform comprehensive assessments of the plan’s benefits and its effect on their workers. What is the worst-case scenario if employees feel threatened or violated by the tracking? Will it reduce productivity by distracting workers or requiring them to interact with it throughout their shifts?

Businesses should be able to prove that they have given due consideration to their reasons for tracking employees, the practicalities of it, and the ongoing effects. These should be presented to any workers a business plans to track.

Is the Tracking App Secure?

Any GPS tracking apps or tools given to employees to track their activity should have been checked for potential security risks.

Tracking tools will contain employees’ names, their role, and possibly more personal details, such as phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and more. If the tracker’s security is weak, this information could be leaked – affecting workers’ privacy and possibly exposing the company at a deeper level.

Businesses should make every effort to ensure tracking apps or software have been checked for efficient security, and provide workers with this evidence to reassure you before tracking begins.

As you can see, there are multiple areas of concern to take into account. If your employer wants to start tracking you, they should be able to address the topics explored above and provide you with peace of mind. 

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