Technology is changing the ways employees are monitored. Employers can now track employee keystrokes, work email, chat, phone calls call, movements through time clock software, and the list goes on. 

Information can be collected and analyzed much more quickly and discreetly than before. Big data analytics have spread through workspaces as employers try to manage costs better and reduce work-related risks by anticipating employee behavior. 

Out of the many ways to monitor employee behavior, GPS Tracking is one of the more complex options. Actively tracking an employees’ location during their shift is a step towards obtaining behavioral data. Managers can determine where an employee went, with whom, for how long, and how frequently.

Without proper regulation, irresponsible employers can attempt to pry into the private lives of their employees outside of working hours. Employers can cross a dangerous line when they watch where employees go to eat or church. By nature, location tracking can be highly intrusive.

Monitoring employees at the workplace is common. It has been around for quite a while, but let’s face it; no one likes outside observation. As technology advances, like it or not, GPS tracking technology will continue to grow.

This beckons the question: Where do we draw the line? And if monitoring employees is inevitable in becoming more commonplace, how do we best implement the monitoring in a less conflicting way? 

When it comes to GPS tracking, there are increasing legal guidelines being established. If employers follow these guidelines, they can lower legal risks and foster a relationship of trust with employees. 

On the other hand, employees can reduce employer abuse by educating themselves on how GPS tracking works, the laws around implementation, and the potential benefits around GPS monitoring.

Benefits

Businesses can use GPS tracking to increase productivity and efficiency. And in turn, you can improve your profitability. GPS tracking can also help improve accountability, ensure policy and legal compliance, and provide safety for field workers.

Several benefits come with GPS tracking such as increased productivity. If you track employees through your time clock software you can see exactly where an employee is spending their time and on which jobs.
Many benefits come from GPS tracking such as improved efficiency, increased productivity and added security for both employees and employers.

Improved Productivity and Efficiency

It is easy to see how GPS tracking can help businesses increase their efficiency and productivity as well as cost savings. Let’s say that you have employees out in the field that bill per client. With GPS tracking, you can see exactly how long an employee was working for a specific client and bill them accordingly.

This ability streamlines many processes for the employer, employee, and clients. There is no more having to manually keep track of this information and the possibility of making mistakes. If you’re using time clock software, you can enable GPS tracking for even more accuracy.

GPS tracking technology is being used in more and more settings to increase efficiency and productivity. Applications like Buddy Punch, a time clock software, allow management to see where their employees are whenever they punch in or out. Also, the software will enable you to set up geofences to further restrict where and when your employees can punch time. 

Accountability, Compliance, and Misconduct

GPS and time tracking can significantly improve employee accountability, compliance, and can help you catch any misconduct. GPS tracking allows employers to check whether employees are working where they’re supposed to be.

Employers can use GPS tracking to check travel logs to obtain the correct information for reimbursements or travel budgets. 

Buddy Punch allows employees to track trip information so employers can verify where they were at a specific time of day. They can see if they were at pleadings, training events, or seminars.

GPS tracking records can also be a beneficial source of evidence to find employee misconduct and those who do not abide by company policies. For example, GPS tracking can determine the speed an employee is driving during a delivery. If their rate exceeds the company speed limit requirements, then corrective action can be taken. All of this information can help keep employees accountable with evidence to back up claims and avoid disputes.

Safety and Miscellaneous

Employee GPS tracking can be used for the well-being of your employees. For example, oil companies that have remote assets can track their oil field inspectors for safety reasons. 

Employers can take advantage of apps that allow them to assist employees in dire situations such as Vismo. Vismo can locate employees anywhere in the world in real-time and can also show you their previous locations. 

Some of the devices provided by Vismo have extra-strong signals and extended battery life. In the event of a crisis, Vismo will notify the employer and allows them to stay in touch with their employees via text message.

Manager dealing with employees who aren't quite ready to adopt GPS tracking while at work.
Employee pushback is inevitable when it comes to GPS tracking. By laying out the benefits of GPS tracking you can reduce worries and improve employee acceptance.

Employee Pushback

Employee GPS monitoring can be intrusive. If employers want to track emails, internet searches, or even conversations, they can do this legally in the workplace. Employers can also track the well-being of their employees. 

Some employers are even using data and medical claims to monitor the health of their employees to cut down on healthcare costs. Even if employees are willing, this is an extremely intrusive process. 

As you might guess, implementing GPS monitoring for employees will cause some pushback. Tracking an employee’s location is a sensitive topic because it touches on an invasion of privacy.

It is human nature to want to be free of judgment and removed from the pressure of prying eyes. After all, employees are just regular humans with private lives that come with human struggles they prefer to hide.

The thought of having an employer monitor so many hours every single working day can make any employee frustrated, especially if their employer is strict, and the sake of losing their job is high.

Additionally, GPS tracking is considered an offensive message that the employer doesn’t have trust in their employees. If not adequately managed, it can lead to an uncomfortable relationship between employee and employer. This can impact employee morale in a very negative way, and employees would resist monitoring even more.

This can be a challenge for employers that are looking to implement monitoring policies – especially for the first time. It can be a very stressful and counterproductive process for both employees and the employer.

The Law

So what does the law say about the legality of GPS monitoring for employees? Where is the line that separates legal from illegal practices of GPS tracking?

In countries such as the United States and China, it is legal to monitor employees’ use of the company’s properties, which includes computers, mobile phones, internet, and working emails – provided employees are informed about it.

Some countries require employers to take further steps before implementing GPS tracking. For example, in Indonesia, employers must get an “Electronic Certificate” from the Ministry of Communication before implementation.

In Europe, employers must follow specific rules of monitoring to ensure transparency in everyday necessity, legitimacy, security, and accuracy. 

Many courts have deemed GPS tracking as an acceptable form of monitoring employees. Case law demonstrates that there are two legal guidelines that employers should follow when it comes to how and when to use GPS tracking. 

  • First, GPS tracking should occur only if employers can provide a legitimate business purpose or circumstance to do so. For example, you may want to use GPS tracking for your time clock software to ensure employees are the correct location for work. Any form of monitoring must be justifiable and relevant to the work or task at hand.
  • Second, GPS tracking should only occur during regular working hours. Most employees would be fine and accept that employers monitor them during working hours. After all, during that time, they should be working. It is much more challenging to justify monitoring beyond agreed working hours.
Manager speaking to employee going over GPS tracking policy and asking clarifying questions.
Both employee and employer need to take accountability when implementing GPS tracking. Employees should educate themselves on how GPS monitoring works and employers should make sure they have clear and concise GPS tracking policies in place.

Best Practices

There are specific measures that both employers and employees should take to better Implement GPS tracking – specifically to help reduce the stress and discomfort that it gives employees. The bottom line is that you should always do your best to be reasonable.

For Employees

To start, employees need to understand and realize that GPS monitoring at work is generally accepted. Monitoring has been around for a long time, and most organizations do not intend to stop, so they have to accept some form of tracking regardless.

Unfortunately, there will always be a certain level of discomfort when it comes to being monitored. But as long as the monitoring is legal and doesn’t interfere with an employee’s personal life, then it is entirely fair and an expected part of a job.

To prevent employer abuse, employees should educate themselves on how GPS technology works and the laws around it. Employees can seek the support of a labor union and start an initiative on monitoring, so it feels far less intimidating. Uneducated employees tend to be more susceptible to abuse as they are unaware of their rights and what the actual issues are.

Employees should take time to carefully read over policies and ask questions if they are unsure. If any disagreements arise, employees should try to remain calm, cooperative, and offer constructive feedback. As with any feedback communication, there should be follow up by a formal written record.

For Employers

Employers considering GPS tracking to learn about the laws for implementation. Always consult with a lawyer to determine local laws, labor law, and transportation law.

After you’ve determined what laws you need to abide by when it comes to GPS tracking, you next need to establish a purpose to do so – whether you’re looking to increase efficiency or productivity. No matter the reasoning for implementing GPS tracking, it should be demonstrable to employees so they can better understand and accept it.

You should Implement a good GPS tracking policy that complies with local, federal, and labor laws. A good policy should be clear and transparent. It should clearly state the nature of the GPS tracking the business purpose behind it, and whether it will be continual or intermittent.

The policy should explain how the data you obtain will be used. We also suggest laying out the potential consequences of disabling GPS tracking. The policy you put in place should be readily available for employees to reference as often as needed.

B.Y.O.D

If GPS tracking involves employees using their own devices, you should put in place a bring-your-own-device policy. You should seek consent from the employee to use their personal before making anything a requirement. 

Most importantly, employers need to ensure that employees are receptive to being tracked with GPS. Successful implementation requires the cooperation of happy employees. 

It is best practice to be upfront about monitoring than to be underhanded. At the same time, an employer should remain empathetic and understand that there will be discomfort that monitoring will impose on employees. 

It is the role of employers to stay credible and build trust. They should welcome questions on how GPS monitoring will work and convey the reasons they want to implement it. If you’re using time clock software, then outline how GPS functions for that solution. If proposals prompt heavy resistance, then employers should offer alternative solutions.

Conclusion

Employers should use GPS monitoring for the right business operations. Employers should train their employees on how to become more familiar with GPS monitoring, so they feel more comfortable with implementation. 

To help reduce the risk of stepping out of compliance, you can use a solution such as Buddy Punch time clock software to only capture the location of an employee when they punch in or out. You can also leave some power in the hands of your employees. This means allowing employees to be in control of some aspects of privacy, especially after working hours.

Don’t forget to make sure that all employees are well-trained on GPS tracking devices, so you don’t cause any miscommunication or instill any mistrust.