We recently came across a very interesting case in British Columbia that brings to light the idea of GPS tracking and employee privacy rights.
It started when some unionized workers from two elevator companies filed complaints over the use of GPS tracking with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, saying the technology is “pushing the limits” of the law and the privacy rights of the public, and is an “offense to the dignity” of the company workers.
The companies had been tracking their mechanics’ vehicles with GPS technology for a couple years, and insisted that the system was reasonable, allowing management to more efficiently deploy its staff, ensure mechanics could be located in the event of an emergency, provide more accurate billing information to clients, and ensure workers were indeed where they said they were.
The GPS devices are installed on the company vehicles, recording and relaying information about location as well as the vehicle itself, including speed and instances of “harsh” braking or “rapid acceleration”. These are important signals to fleet managers that can help them more effectively look after company equipment as well as the safety of the employees themselves.
The province’s information commissioner rejected the workers’ complaints, yet one of the companies was ordered to temporarily stop using the GPS technology until it provided better notice and more transparency about what information is collected and how it is used.
So, the moral of the story? GPS fleet tracking is and will increasingly be a very important aspect of fleet management. However, companies should take the time to educate employees as to the benefits of this technology and what sort of information is being recorded. Being transparent is being respectful, and if employees see the value in the technology as much as you do, they will be much more likely to openly adopt it.
Russ Salo, President,
GPS to GO, Now You Know