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If you manage a business, it’s essential to know where your employees are and keep them accountable. GPS tracking devices help you monitor their location in real-time.
However, before deciding on which GPS device or company to use, you should be aware of the applicable laws surrounding these systems and the policies that should be set within your organization so that your employees know how the system works and how to conduct themselves during its use.
Modern technology has made it easy to track employees, but that doesn’t mean your company should use it without considering its implications. GPS tracking is controversial, and laws in many states restrict how an employer can use it, so you’ll need to decide whether it’s right for your business and if you need to inform your employees about using it. It can also make it challenging to recruit new employees, who may have privacy concerns about being tracked by their employers.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about GPS tracking employees laws and more-
Know About GPS Tracking Employees Laws
There is no federal law prohibiting the use of GPS tracking devices, although there are some restrictions in place relating to their use by the government. Most state GPS tracking employees laws expressly allow private individuals to use GPS tracking devices or are silent on the issue, meaning there is no specific prohibition against their use.
However, a few states—including California, Florida, and Utah—have enacted legislation specifically addressing the help of GPS tracking devices by private individuals.
In the United Kingdom, location tracking is defined as an act of employee monitoring under the GDPR, which allows it as long as employees give consent and have unrestricted access to their private data.
Additionally, the GDPR requires organizations to:
- Be transparent about tracked data
- Have a legal basis for processing employee information
- Use it in a way that is beneficial to staff rather than detrimental
This is in line with GDPR’s three principles:
Consent is also critical to monitoring regulations in Canada. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act permits monitoring as long as employees have been informed of the policy and given their consent.
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Compliance: Tracking Company-Owned Devices vs. Tracking Private
Employers are usually permitted to observe all activity conducted on a company-owned device. Your business can track them via GPS or IP address if you give work phones and laptops.
The tracking is also applicable to devices used by the employees off-premises and outside of work hours, such as when the employee is at home. Providing company-owned systems is a good idea if you want to use this type of location tracking.
It’s not always an issue to track individuals’ owned devices. The employer should consider a few key questions:
- Is the system being used at the workplace?
- Is the system being used during work hours?
- Is the system being used for work?
If the answer to the mentioned questions is no, reconsider using that system to monitor the employee. Even with consent, the employer owes a justification to monitor a personal phone or computer that isn’t used for work.
If your organization permits employees to use their owned devices for work, you’ll need to develop a suitable Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) corporate policy.
In short, for tracking devices, the most important thing is to be upfront and transparent with employees. If you’re honest about your intentions and get consent before tracking anyone’s device, you should be in good shape.
Compliance: On-Premises Tracking
Although on-premise employee monitoring may not appear to be a significant problem initially, it still has some disadvantages. Employers are aware of whether or not an employee is at a workplace. However, GPS is only one method of tracking employee movements.
Surveillance cameras have been used to monitor employees for a long time. They should include visible signs that inform staff that they are being watched.
Many businesses give out Fitbits and similar fitness trackers to promote a healthy workplace and monitor movement and location. They also share the information, which may create additional privacy concerns.
Also, Amazon has reportedly acquired patents for wristbands that would monitor the activities of warehouse workers. If they place an item in the wrong area, the bands vibrate and communicate with the equipment.
RFID microchips, also known as radio frequency identification (RFID), are tiny computers that may be attached to a person or their belongings to track them. Employers in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Missouri have been banned from using such gadgets on employees.
Compliance: GPS Tracking Of Work Vehicles
Employers may keep tabs on the movements of any company-owned vehicle driven by workers. This can be done without permission, but getting consent is a good idea.
In many US states, it’s against the law to track cars without consent from the owner, Virginia, Texas, and California are among them.
Even outside those states, it is not wise to track employees’ vehicles without their consent using any GPS tracker because they may violate broader privacy rules.
A mobile app from a device used for work may be another method to monitor your GPS location. Mobile teams, field salespeople, building firms, etc., can use apps to keep track of their personnel, so you know whether your workforce is at work or visiting clients.
A geofencing time clock software like Workstatus can automatically begin or stop the timer when someone arrives at a work location or sends alerts to start or end monitoring time.
Develop A GPS Employee Tracking Policy
When developing an employee GPS tracking policy, employers should consider the following points:
- The purpose of the tracking system and what information will be collected
- Who will have access to the tracking data?
- How long will the data be retained?
- What measures will be in place to protect employee privacy?
- How will the tracking system be implemented and enforced?
- What exceptions will be made for employees who are not tracked (such as workers who telecommute or travel for business)?
- What recourse do employees have if they believe their privacy has been violated?
Employers should also consult legal counsel to ensure that their location-tracking policy complies with all applicable GPS tracking employees laws .
Also Read: 7 Myth Busters of Remote Work You Should Know
Below infographics depicts a brief summary of what we have learned till now.
Top 5 Best Practices For Employee Tracking With GPS
1. Notify Employees About Tracking
Before you can track anyone, they must know they’re being tracked. Depending on your relationship with your employees, you may or may not want to notify them that you’re implementing a new tracking policy—so be sure to talk through these considerations with an HR expert before getting started.
However, it’s important to emphasize that no employee will be tracked without consent. Don’t just clarify that permission is required; establish clear parameters for when and how GPS tracking will occur.
For example, will employees be notified whenever they’re being tracked, or only in certain situations? Will management have access to real-time tracking data or only location data retrospectively?
These are essential questions to answer before using GPS tracking in your business. By establishing clear guidelines and expectations from the outset, you can help ensure that your GPS tracking policy is effective and compliant with the law.
2. Track Only Authorized Personnel
Before setting up a GPS tracking system, make sure you’re following your local laws and don’t overstep any boundaries. Some states allow you to use a tracker on company-owned vehicles, while others prohibit it.
If you plan to track only those vehicles that belong to you, make sure your employees know that if they want to bring their cars for work purposes—even occasionally—they need to inform management about it first so it can be added to a list of authorized cars.
Otherwise, there’s no way for management or company owners to tell if someone is using his or her vehicle on company time.
3. Track With Workstatus
Employee location monitoring may be considerably more difficult than it should be without the proper software. So you should go for an app that fulfills your needs while complying with your company’s GPS tracking policy.
Workstatus is a field service management software that includes GPS tracking capabilities, clock in app with GPS and is available as a lightweight and secure app. Your workforce just needs to download the Workstatus app to its phones.
This will let you:
- Track the location of employees in real-time, which can help manage field teams or keep track of company vehicles
- See where your employees spend most of their time, which can help with workforce management and efficiency planning
- Monitor employee behavior even when they’re not on the clock
- Improve safety protocols within a company, as well as improve customer service by understanding employee travel patterns and guessed time of arrival (ETA)
- Identify areas where employees may be slacking off or not working to their full potential
Employees have complete control over their data with Workstatus — they can modify or delete their time entries and location information without needing management or administration approval.
Also Read: 10 Features of Workstatus That Make It a Perfect Workforce Management System
4. Give Clear Instructions To The Employees
Give clear instructions to employees about how they should use GPS tracking devices. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them. You should also explain the rationale behind tracking employee movements; if workers understand why you’re doing it, they’re more likely to cooperate.
In addition to providing clear instructions, you should also ensure that employees are aware of the consequences of not following them. Let workers know that they may face disciplinary action if they don’t use the devices properly. This will help ensure that everyone takes the tracking seriously and uses the devices as intended.
5. Store Data Securely
If your employees use devices with built-in GPS capability to perform their jobs, you’ll want to ensure that their data is safe. If an employee loses his or her device or it’s stolen, there will be sensitive business information that needs to be protected. Encrypting company data can help deter thieves from targeting your employees. Just make sure all devices are equipped with encryption tools before sending them out into circulation.
The next step is to put your employee monitoring plan into action. Roadblocks are allowable if you work with your staff to overcome them.
The first few weeks – or months are frequently the most trying. This is especially true if many of your team members have never been tracked earlier.
Ultimately, it all comes down to maintaining transparency and honesty without setting unreasonably high expectations. If you can do that, fantastic outcomes will naturally follow.
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