Understanding Your Rights in Business GPS

If you are a business owner or manager seeking to monitor the activity of your mobile workers, it's important for you to first understand your rights as an employer, and those of your employees. As an employer, it is within your legal rights to ensure your workers are where they say they are, but before you begin using GPS tracking devices to monitor them, you should be aware of the potential legal issues you may encounter. 

Your Rights as the Boss

Employee monitoring laws may vary from state to state, so it's important to review the laws in the state where your business operates. For example, in some states, employees need to be informed about the presence of a tracking device on their vehicle, and that vehicle must be owned by the employer. Knowing what's allowed where your business operates gives you the opportunity to even the playing field and ensure that you are engaging in only legal practices. 

Lightning GPS does not condone illicit tracking, meaning tracking that is unethical. Lawsuits often result from tracking that makes employees feel uncomfortable, violated, or disrespected. In order to protect yourself from action of this kind, we recommend familiarizing yourself with local GPS laws to ensure you are operating legally and ethically. It can also benefit you to consult with a local lawyer as they may be able to offer insight into business considerations in your area, inform you about lawsuits that have occurred with similar businesses or operational practices, and more. 

Principles to Consider

Why do employers use GPS tracking? Many reasons! Some of these include concerns about: 

  • The whereabouts of assets, vehicles, and people
  • Efficiency of routes and movement
  • Unsafe driving behaviors
  • Clocking in and out on time 
  • Management of accurate hour and mileage reporting

Some employees may be concerned about having their actions scrutinized, but most employers use GPS tracking to optimize performance. Monitoring enables owners and managers to optimize efficiency, plan routes, maintain knowledge about the locations of assets, and ensure greater customer satisfaction. 

Geofences are exceptionally useful tools for monitoring locations and movement as well. Using the Lightning GPS cloud software, an employer can draw a geofence or a border around a specific area on the map. If the GPS tracker used to monitor the vehicle crosses the line created by the geofence, the employer will receive a notification. This allows employers to monitor their employees' actions to determine whether they are deviating from their routes. Once this is discovered, employers can dig further to search for reasons. It could be that the employee is running personal errands on the clock, or perhaps they are looking for better routes or avoiding known areas with bad traffic. 

Employers should be cautious about making assumptions about their employees' intentions, instead using the opportunity to open up constructive communication between themselves and their team. 

What Employees Need to Know About Being Tracked

If you're considering using GPS trackers to monitor business productivity, it's important to listen carefully to the concerns your employees have about being tracked so that you can understand their expectations. You should begin by determining the answers to the following questions: 

  • What is the reasonable expectation to privacy that your employees have in the workplace? 
  • Who is the legal owner of the device or vehicle you want to track? 
  • Is the equipment being used or authorized for use only during work hours or is the employee allowed discretionary personal use? 
  • What information have you provided to your employees about privacy, tracking, monitoring, etc.? 

Often, employees expect a reasonable amount of monitoring from their employers, liked tracked internet usage on their computer. They may not, however, expect more extreme forms of monitoring like having their company phone reporting their location back to their boss, even after-hours. For employees, this can feel like a violation to their privacy, and this is usually a feeling that leads to legal action. For this reason, it's important for employers to keep communication open between employees and management, allowing questions and concerns to be addressed in a timely manner. 

Ethical Use of GPS Tracking in Business

Even if you find that you can legally track your employees' whereabouts in your state, you will likely be faced with the question of whether or not it's a good idea, ethically speaking. Your employees may have concerns about the ethics of your choice and as an employer, you can reduce concerns by providing your employees with a clear understanding about your intentions for using GPS tracking and opening the floor to allow them to feel comfortable expressing their concerns back to you. Some means of protecting your company from legal actions taken by frustrated employees include: 

  • Defining the company's privacy policy in clear terms that all employees can view
  • Understanding employees' reasonable expectations of privacy (this can also help guide you when developing your plan of action with tracking and monitoring)
  • Explaining your intentions with the data you gather 
  • Offering employees a safe space for expressing their concerns
  • Limiting information gathered to a bare minimum
  • Disabling tracking after business hours to allow employees personal privacy

When it comes to setting your employees' minds at ease, open and clear communication is usually the best course of action. Express to your employees that your primary aim is to improve workplace efficiency. Even if you choose to use collected data in order to work with an individual employee to improve their performance, discipline inappropriate behaviors, etc., employees may still limit bad behavior out of the simple knowledge that you are watching them. 

There may always be risks involved with monitoring employees, but it is possible to create an atmosphere of trust and accountability within your business. When GPS tracking is performed responsibly, it can successfully improve business operations. If you have questions about using GPS tracking for your business and want to get started, contact us to talk with one of our GPS Specialists today by calling 877-477-9119.