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Employee Tracking: Uses, Legality, Benefits, and More

Employee Tracking: Uses, Legality, Benefits, and More

Lynn Mendez

​​Imagine working where every step you take and every click you make is monitored. This might sound like science fiction, but employee tracking is becoming common in today's workplaces. Employee tracking uses technology to monitor workers' activities, such as GPS for field employees, computer monitoring for remote workers, and even biometric scans for office entry. A 2022 study by Gartner found that over 50% of large companies now use some form of employee tracking.

Understanding the uses and legality of employee tracking is crucial. It can boost productivity and security, but laws vary, and privacy must be respected. Employees must know their rights and understand how and why they're monitored. Exploring these aspects ensures tracking is used fairly and effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Legality: Legal if employers own the asset and obtain employee consent.
  • Benefits: Boosts productivity, improves security, and aids in performance reviews.
  • Challenges: Requires ethical use and balancing privacy with efficiency.
  • Best Practices: Clear communication, informed consent, and regular reviews.

Is employee tracking legal?

It's entirely legal to use a GPS Tracker on any vehicle or asset you own. On the other hand, before you use a GPS tracking device on someone else's person, vehicle, or property, you should do a little research on current federal, state, and local laws. GPS devices are a relatively new technology, and the legality of their use may vary by state. Even federal courts are split on how to handle the technology. Laws are continually being readdressed as new cases are popping up in the legal world, so it’s important to stay up to date on these changes. If you have any legal issues involving a GPS tracking device, you should consult with a criminal lawyer for advice. 

For starters, it's generally legal to use a GPS-tracking device if

  • you or your organization own the vehicle or asset to be tracked.
  • you own the asset that might be taken without your permission.
  • your children (under 18) are the focus of the tracking; or
  • you are tracking a car or asset for legal repossession in the event of a default on a loan.

On the contrary, it’s only illegal if you are not the owner of the car and do not have consent to track it. So, it’s always a good idea to get your employees’ consent beforehand. Few states have passed laws specifically concerning employee location tracking, so obtaining consent can go a long way in protecting both the employer and the employee in this legal grey area.

Legality of Employee Tracking

1. Overview of Legal Considerations
Employee tracking can be helpful, but following the law is important. Employers must know and respect privacy laws and regulations to avoid legal issues.

2. Privacy Laws and Regulations
Privacy laws protect employees' personal information. These laws say what employers can and cannot do with tracking. For example- employers might need to tell employees they are being tracked and why.

3. Differences in Legislation by Region/Country
Laws about employee tracking are different in each country and even in different regions within a country. What is allowed in one place might not be allowed in another. Employers need to know the laws where they operate.

4. Employer Obligations
Employers have duties when it comes to tracking. They must be clear about what they are tracking and why. They also need to make sure they follow all the laws about privacy and employee rights.

5. Transparency and Consent
Transparency means being open and honest. Employers should tell employees if they are being tracked, how it is done, and why. They should get employees' consent, which means permission, before starting any tracking.

6. Employee Rights
Employees have rights when it comes to being tracked. They have the right to privacy and to know what information is being collected about them. Employers must respect these rights.

7. Right to Privacy and Information
Employees should know what data is collected about them and how it is used. They have the right to ask questions and get clear answers. Employers must make sure employees feel safe and respected regarding their privacy.

Benefits of Employee Tracking

Whether you run a construction business, landscaping or cleaning company, a delivery service, or any other business with field staff, you need to know where your people are so you can properly dispatch team members and get work done. Here are the advantages of using a GPS tracker to help you track employees.

Benefits of Employee Tracking

Employee tracking can offer many advantages for both businesses and employees. Here are some key benefits:

1. Enhance vehicle route planning
The use of a GPS vehicle locator will give you better route options for your drivers. This reduces the time your driver has to spend on the road, resulting in faster delivery arrival and lesser fuel expenses.

2. Improve the dispatching method
With a GPS tracker, you will be able to accommodate late customer orders and requests by finding the closest available employee in the area of your client.

3. Improve employee productivity
Various studies show that when field employees are aware that their performance is being tracked, including their driving behaviour, they are most likely to follow rules and therefore improve their productivity.

4. Keep employees safe
One of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping your workforce safe is through the use of a GPS tracker. A tracker with an SOS button can send an alarm message to the administrator, informing them of emergencies.

5. Enhanced Security
Tracking can protect company assets. For example, it can prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and keep company property safe.

6. Secure assets
The GPS tracker sends out an alert the moment your vehicle is moved out of its position without your permission, brought to suspicious routes, or driven beyond working hours, ensuring quicker recovery in case of theft, inside jobs, or moonlighting

7. Track employee efficiency and work time
You will also be able to monitor which of your employees are efficient and which are not. The system can record the number and duration of downtimes, as well as unauthorized usage of company assets as proof. All you have to do is either have a GPS tracking app installed on your employee’s mobile device or have your employees carry stand-alone GPS devices. Just geofence the building where your business is, and once an employee arrives at the building, the app or the GPS tracker will activate and start tracking their work time.

8. Set up areas of coverage
If you run any business that deals with fieldwork, you can easily set up areas of coverage for different teams and workers. Simply use your GPS map, divide your town, geofence each area, and assign teams and workers to each one. This way, your teams will be more efficient and there won’t be any mix-ups. Each task will be assigned to an employee in a specific area of coverage, and all information can be easily checked and kept track of.

9. Coordinate with your workforce
GPS tracking guarantees the easier coordination of your workforce. All your employees can be visible on a map, and by knowing where each of them is, you can create delivery routes or use their location to arrange for a better service. For example, if you own a plumbing business, track your workers and maximize their efficiency by sending them appointments nearest to their location.

10. Assign clients/tasks to specific employees
With a GPS tracker, you can identify specific tasks or clients most suited to your employees. For instance, if you own a taxi company and notice that one of your employees has the greatest number of fares when assigned to a specific part of town, you can help keep certain drivers assigned to that specific part of town, helping them earn more while also increasing your profits.

11. Manage your fleet
GPS trackers are not only used to optimize routes but can be used to manage your whole fleet. See which employee is on the move or what driver is waiting for their next assignment at the base. With GPS tracking, you can check out all routes, see departure and arrival times, and assign new deliveries through its communication capabilities to optimize your fleets’ deliveries.

12. Set up customized shift hours
Some employees are more efficient in the morning, others at night. To maximize performance, you can suggest to certain employees that they can work in shifts to achieve the greatest level of productivity.

13. Simplify communication with employees
Get a GPS-tracking app with a messaging feature. This way, all employees who have the app can communicate among themselves. Administrators can also look at the map and find agents who are closest to the next assignment and send them on this assignment, instead of calling out all drivers and waiting for someone to answer. If someone needs help with their task, they can just open the app, select the coworker closest to their location, and message them to get the help required.

14. Optimize asset productivity
Your company’s assets include your employees, your equipment, and your money, and you have to make sure that all these assets are used in the best way possible. If you own a shipping business, use GPS trackers to find out the most efficient way and day to ship goods. Through tracking your shipments, you may discover that Tuesdays are the slowest day of the week for everyone and that sacrificing one day by moving all Tuesday shipments to Wednesday may save you a lot more money.

15. Compliance and Regulation
Tracking helps companies follow rules and regulations. It ensures employees are adhering to company policies and legal requirements.

16. Performance Reviews
Employee tracking provides data for performance reviews. Managers can use this information to give fair and accurate feedback to employees.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

Employee tracking can be helpful, but it also has some challenges and ethical issues.

1. Potential for Misuse and Employee Distrust
If not used correctly, tracking can be misused. For example, employers might invade employees' privacy or use the data unfairly. This can lead to employees not trusting their employers, which can create a negative work environment.

2. Balancing Productivity with Privacy
It's important to find a balance between increasing productivity and respecting employees' privacy. Employers need to track enough to improve work without invading personal space.

3. Ensuring Ethical Use and Fair Practices
Employers must use tracking tools ethically and fairly. This means being honest about what is being tracked and why. They should also follow laws and respect employees' rights. Treating employees fairly will help build trust and maintain a positive workplace.

Best Practices for Implementing Employee Tracking

To use employee tracking effectively and fairly, employers should follow these best practices:

1. Clear Communication with Employees
Employers need to talk openly with employees about tracking. They should explain what will be tracked, how it will be done, and why it's necessary. Clear communication helps everyone understand the purpose and benefits of tracking.

2. Obtaining Informed Consent
Employers should get permission from employees before starting any tracking. This is called informed consent. Employees should know exactly what they are agreeing to and have the chance to ask questions.

3. Transparent Policies and Procedures
Employers should have clear rules about tracking. These rules should be easy to understand and available for all employees to read. Being transparent, or open, about tracking policies builds trust and ensures everyone knows what to expect.

4. Regular Reviews and Updates of Tracking Practices
Tracking practices should be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still effective and fair. Employers should update their policies as needed to keep up with changes in technology and laws. Regular reviews help ensure tracking is done in the best way possible.

Are GPS trackers difficult to install in company vehicles?

While there are GPS trackers that are complicated and need additional configuration before use, there are some GPS vehicle locators like Tracki that are out-of-the-box, ready-to-use tracking units. Installing tracking devices on vehicles is easier than you think, given that you have all the equipment needed. In general, there are two ways to install a tracking device: hardwiring it to the vehicle or using a plug-and-play device.

If you need help installing it, here’s an in-depth guide to help you out.

Do I have to maintain the software that is used by the GPS tracker?

If you’re using Tracki, no, it's not your responsibility anymore. Tracki has a system that supports your GPS tracker, so there's no need to download it. You can access it online anytime using your internet-connected computer for free!

Conclusion

Employee tracking offers numerous benefits, such as improved productivity, enhanced security, and better compliance with regulations. However, it also presents challenges, including potential misuse and privacy concerns. To ensure tracking is both effective and ethical, employers should communicate, obtain informed consent, and maintain transparent policies. Regularly reviewing and updating tracking practices is essential to stay aligned with legal requirements and technological advancements. By balancing the benefits and ethical considerations, businesses can implement employee tracking in a way that respects employee rights and fosters a positive work environment.

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Lynn Mendez
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