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Can I Track my Employees’ Personal Vehicles?

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Working 9 to 5

Tracking employees in their personal vehicles during business hours is appropriate and legal. No matter what tools employees use for getting work done on behalf of the company, tracking their progress and activity should be okay. Granted, tracking employees will always come with guidelines. Specifically, tracking personal vehicles, like this, should be done during business hours, only! In New York State, courts found tracking personal vehicles outside business hours “unreasonable and unconstitutional.” (Lexology) Tracking during business hours was not, however, problematic. (Lexology) Lastly, tracking should be for business reasons, only! Business owners and managers must practice professional restraint and track for reasons that only directly relate to profits and productivity. For the sake of best practices, have a rationale on how every issue for tracking relates to the success of the business and to that employee’s capacity to support that success.

Not All the Time.

The success of tracking employees who use their personal vehicles for work hinges on restraining from tracking them off hours. Authoritative websites advising on this topic refer to the “risks” of tracking employees. Greenfelder.com advises employers on “evaluate(ing) whether the potential benefits outweigh the significant risks.” (Greensfelder) Heavy words for such an intangible subject matter. Such tracking is expressly illegal in California, Connecticut, Delaware and Texas. (Greensfelder) Employers must gain consent from employees to track their private vehicles. (Greensfelder) Other best practices should be observed to further mitigate any future legal woes. Tracking should be demonstrably disabled outside business hours. (The Atlantic) Saying “we don’t look at GPS logs recorded outside business hours” may not be enough to pass any kind of real scrutiny. Any GPS provider work their salt will have a feature doing just this.

Write It Down.

Last, have a written GPS tracking policy with specifically when, why, and how employees are tracked. Stating the hours that employees are tracked demonstrates that, on the books, employees are only tracked during business hours. Explaining how employees are tracked may also be necessary at some point, for example during a court case or some kind of audit. Most importantly, state the specific reasons for tracking employees. This section will suffer the burden of showing business reasons for tracking employees in their personal vehicles. The most time should be spent on this section of the document and it should be updated as the company’s business practices or objectives change. Lastly, obtain consent from employees. Written consent on a well worded and signed document is extremely important. Most legal contests to the practice hinge more primarily on written consent than another single factor. Tracking is illegal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Texas, without written content that is. (Greensfelder)

Select the Right System.

Once you have decided to track employee’s vehicles and developed your written GPS tracking policy, it is import to decide on the right gps tracking system for your company.  There are numerous providers but not all solutions are the same.  Some providers focus on different industries or business sizes.  It is important before you decide that you know exactly what your pain points are and what is most important for you.  This will help you assess all of the systems and see which one is the right fit for you.  Make sure you check ease of use, refresh time, features, data usage and storage limitations, notifications and if unlimited.  Are there any extra charges for other features that you need?  Are there any long term contracts or commitments?  Do you need hardwire or plug n play?  All of this information will help you make an informed decision and will allow you to get the most benefit from a GPS tracking solution.

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