Since the early days of GPS technology, companies have been able to track their field or mobile employees’ whereabouts accurately, primarily through GPS devices. With the introduction of even more sophisticated technology, Smartphones are now able to accommodate GPS receivers through applications. This provides employers with a more accurate representation of their employees’ whereabouts. However, employers have to be careful, as tracking any individuals may be subject to certain laws and regulations.
Business establishments, especially large scale organizations with several hundred employees see the tracking of GPS locations of employees to be the best personnel management tool. They can benefit greatly if GPS technology is implemented correctly. Some of them include:
- GPS technology provides mobile employees like delivery personnel with a streamlined travel plan for achieving increased efficiency.
- Many organizations like to keep track of their employees’ working hours to monitor over time efforts and to make sure it is in compliance with existing labour laws.
- In case of GPS tracking for employees’ vehicles, employers can check whether their staffs are in compliance with existing safety laws and not violating any.
- GPS tracking records can be used by businesses to verify all time records are accurate. It also ensures that all company policies are adhered to and employees are engaging with each other in a safe manner.
- In case of any legal troubles or other types of “wrongdoings” a suspected employee’s GPS location history can be used as part of the internal investigation.
However, as mentioned before, monitoring employees have their own sets of legal problems if not conducted in an appropriate manner. Many times, business owners and companies get embroiled into lengthy legal battles and employee privacy issues, effecting the business image and reputation in the process.
So in order to perfectly implement these measures to benefit everybody, a perfect balance between ethical considerations and tracking for business purposes must be established. There are some important considerations to follow, as explained below.
1.- Understanding the law: Employers have to be well aware and understand all the intricate details of existing laws of privacy expectation. Laws and regulations are also in place for GPS vehicle tracking in each country or region.
2.- GPS specific laws: GPS tracking laws almost everywhere in the world has strict regulations when it comes to tracking vehicles. To a business owner, it is always advisable to install GPS trackers on only employer-owned vehicles and devices. Existing laws state that GPS tracking is permissible on employees using company property, only after the employees have been made aware of the monitoring. Installing and tracking GPS devices on personally owned property can have serious legal ramifications.
3.- Justified by business needs: All employees should be monitored to an extent which is justified by their business needs or activities. Privacy is a big issue in the modern world and an employee might feel a privacy violation if the employers take things too far. Thus, for an employer, it is advisable to consider GPS tracking only if the risk is offset by a business need.
4.- Clearly stated policies: Employers have to lay out the ground rules before commencing with a program like this. Part of this includes having a GPS tracking policy, written in an unambiguous manner for all employees to understand. It should clearly intimate the purpose of tracking, including the business reasons, when and how they will be monitored, and the use of the data collected. The consequences of turning off the GPS tracking device without the knowledge of the employers should also be clearly stated. Framing of such a policy which is accepted by all employees will eliminate the chances of future legal battles for privacy non-compliance.
5.- Ethical Outlook: Finally, employers have to have a sense of responsibility and an ethical outlook. Employees should only be monitored during work hours or for job specific reasons, such as delivery. Any tracking used otherwise will be regarded as non-compliance of existing laws and a breach of privacy, which can ultimately result in severe losses.
Innovative technologies are reshaping the way employees are monitored in corporate set ups. GPS tracking has extended to accommodate work emails, keystrokes, internet searches, phone calls, tone of voice, logging time, etc. Information gathered from these GPS devices can be analysed and used for future purposes. Many employers have used such data to optimise costs and mitigate existing work related risks. However, for an employer, it is of prime importance that the ethical part of the programme is maintained. All practices must comply with existing privacy and GPS tracking policies formed as well as the full consent of the tracked employee.