The Legal Gotchas of Employee GPS Tracking

GPS tracking of field staff is on the rise. Removing “gig” workers from this equation, there are now, according to T-Sheets, 1 in 10 employees are tracked 24 hours a day — this is illegal.

Of the GPS workers surveyed, 45% had suspicions that they were being tracked 24/7.

There are some benefits for allowing GPS tracking for both the employee and employer. For example, employees can be more accurately tracked for overtime pay and ensuring employees obey traffic laws are a win-win for both.

Each state’s laws do vary. First and foremost, the employee has to be made aware that this activity is being enforced. Most states are pretty clear when the company owns the vehicle and how they monitor employee activity. It becomes less clear when the employer wants to monitor a vehicle owned by the employee.

The laws get even muddier when it comes to using an employee’s own smart device.

Here is a list of best practices created by Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale PC

  • Become familiar with any laws applicable to privacy expectations and GPS tracking of vehicles and/or devices in the state where you wish to engage in GPS tracking.
  • Only use GPS tracking in employer-owned vehicles or devices. The case law and statutes show that generally, tracking an employee using company-owned property is permissible, especially when the employee is aware of the GPS monitoring. Tracking employees using their personally owned property is still a legal gray area.
  • Only monitor employees to the extent that it is justified by a business need. There are risks associated with tracking employees via GPS, namely that an employee will feel his or her privacy has been violated and commence litigation. Therefore, an employer should only consider engaging in monitoring to the extent that risk is offset by a business need.
  • Make sure you have a written GPS tracking policy. It should outline the business reasons for using GPS tracking, when and how employees should expect to be monitored and how the employer will use and safeguard data collected. If an employee will be disciplined for disabling a GPS device without the employer’s permission, the GPS tracking policy should also notify the employees of those consequences in advance. Be sure to communicate the policy to all employees, and ask that employees acknowledge their receipt and understanding of the policy.
  • Finally, be responsible and considerate. Only monitor employee activity during work hours, and only monitor the employees’ location for a specific business purpose in compliance with your GPS tracking policy. Finally, make sure that you store any GPS-related data securely.

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