Employee GPS Tracking Laws | Can My Employer Track My Location?

TripLog Team

In today’s technologically advanced workplace, employers have unprecedented access to their employees. You can use programs to keep tabs on everything from clock-in and clock-out hours to email usage patterns. 

However, with all of this increased employee surveillance, particularly with GPS tracking, significant legal and ethical issues have emerged. While there are many good reasons to follow your employees, doing so comes with a lot of hazards. 

In order to create appropriate standards for both employers and employees, multiple states have recently implemented laws governing how you can GPS track your personnel. You’ll be able to track employees more ethically and successfully if you are aware of the various laws and regulations that are relevant to you.

The Advantages of Employee GPS Tracking

Many management issues have been addressed using GPS as a tool for tracking employees. Deciding why you have it around in the first place is the first step to using it wisely.

Related: Benefits of GPS Time Clock Tracking For Employees Explained

Approving Employee Travel Expenses: Many companies with mobile workers reimburse them for travel costs that they incur out of pocket, such as driving their own cars for work. To make sure you’re paying them the appropriate amount, you must precisely keep track of the miles they travel.

Enhancing Productivity for Mobile Workers: Monitoring employee travel provides valuable information regarding travel routes, frequent stops, and average travel times. With the use of this information, you may more effectively plan an employee's travel itineraries, maximize their time on the road, and reduce unneeded travel.

Monitoring and Compliance: GPS enables you to check the accuracy of time records, make sure workers aren’t spending too much time on the clock out in the field, and spot any labor law infractions. Additionally, GPS tracking tools can assist you in enforcing company travel regulations. If you have reason to believe that a violation has occurred, GPS data can be a useful tool in your investigation of wrongdoing.

When GPS is utilized properly to monitor workers, the information gained can enhance operations, record keeping, safety, and even customer service. 

Related: 4 Steps to Easily Track Your Employee's Time Off

Employee GPS Tracking: What the Law Says

It’s critical that you become informed of the privacy and employee GPS tracking regulations applicable to your organization before using GPS monitoring on any kind of car or device, whether it’s company-owned or personal. Although there are no federal rules governing the use of GPS by companies in the US, numerous states have taken action to implement them.

Using GPS to track company-owned property or employee personal property is a crucial decision to make. In general, it is legal for employers to monitor behavior on company-owned devices. 

In other words, you are permitted to monitor behavior using a GPS or IP address if you give staff smartphones or laptops. This includes any equipment utilized outside of the facility or after hours.

Which States Regulate Employee GPS Tracking?

This practice is authorized by a 2014 Illinois statute. Without the owner’s permission, using GPS to track the whereabouts of a vehicle is a criminal offense. Since you are approving the tracking, you are authorized to monitor a company-owned car as the employer.

Related: The 10 Best SMB Employee Scheduling Software (2023)

However, without the employee’s permission, an employer would not be permitted to utilize GPS to track employee-owned equipment or cars. Employer tracking of employee-owned cars or equipment is typically more of a legal murky area.

For instance, a state court in New York ruled that mounting a GPS unit on a car that belonged to a state employee suspected of fabricating timesheets constituted an unreasonable search. However, the court determined that the search would have probably been legal if the state had merely kept an eye on the employee during normal business hours. 

Although the law hasn’t made up its mind regarding GPS tracking via employees’ smartphones, the general consensus is that you shouldn’t do it if you haven’t secured the employee’s consent. If you invade their privacy without their consent, you may be in violation of state tort laws.

Related: 4 Ways Workers Steal Time (And 6 Ways To Prevent It) | Time Theft Explained

It is important to check the laws in other states, such as Texas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida, to ensure that your company is operating legally wherever it conducts business. These states also have laws that specifically address GPS tracking.

Employee GPS Tracking: A Few General Guidelines

Here are some fundamental recommendations if you’re considering employing GPS to monitor employee movement: 

  • Generally speaking, it is acceptable to track any company-owned equipment and vehicles while they are being used for business.
  • If you can get staff permission, all the better.
  • Whether you can track privately owned vehicles and equipment is less certain. 
  • Only keep an eye on workers to the extent that your company deems it necessary. 
  • Make sure to evaluate whether the risks associated with monitoring employees outweigh the need for the business to do so.

How to Develop an Employee GPS Tracking Policy

Make sure any deployment of GPS includes an update to corporate policies once you’ve decided to use it. A documented GPS tracking policy that details what the company needs for GPS, when it will be used, how personnel will be watched, and how you intend to safeguard GPS data from improper handling is required.

Related: How to Track Employee Hours - 3 Easy Ways for 2023

Include a brief explanation of your state’s GPS tracking employee regulations and the obligations you have as an employer to protect employee privacy and security in your policy. You should also make the staff aware if deactivating GPS tracking devices will result in disciplinary action.

On the other hand, if you don’t already have one, a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy is something you should implement if employees at your firm utilize personal devices and automobiles while at work. You must get permission before using GPS to track employee-owned property.

Regardless of what your GPS monitoring policy finally states, make sure that it is explained to all employees and that they are aware of it. To learn more about how a GPS employee time tracker can help your team, schedule a complimentary live web demo today!