From the Hotline: Installing GPS Tracking Devices in Company-Provided Vehicles

Question: What issues should be considered when installing GPS tracking on company-provided vehicles?

Answer: Important items to consider are (1) the formal laws and court rulings in your state related to this type of monitoring and (2) ensuring that you have clearly communicated your company policies in advance to the impacted employees and then enforced them uniformly afterward.  Here’s why:  The use of GPS tracking systems on company vehicles is an area where few states have determined specific laws related to the topic.  Instead, what the courts are generally relying on are the more pervasive nondisclosure and privacy rules relating to general electronic/internet monitoring and video surveillance in the workplace. As such, the typical best practice is to have the same rules and policies in place for GPS tracking as would be used for company-provided smartphones, laptops or other company equipment.

Practical tips to consider:  So while there is little legislation that specifically addresses the use of GPS or other vehicle monitoring devices to track individuals, from a best practice perspective we are encouraging our clients in states where no legislation currently exists (like Pennsylvania) to balance employees’ privacy rights with the value of using such monitoring and consider the legitimate business reasons for using the devices. Therefore, until this area of law is more established, we recommend caution when using GPS devices by carefully considering the business need for the tracking and consulting with legal counsel to fully understand all legal risks before implementing the tracking.

Develop a formal GPS policy relating to usage with company vehicles. While many employers already have an electronic systems policy in place that notifies employees that the company’s electronic systems and devices are subject to monitoring and inspection by the company at any time and that there is no expectation of privacy, the best practice is to either include the GPS in that policy or create a specific policy addressing its usage based on the applicable rules in your state.  Consider the following:

  • Inform your employees in advance that you have GPS tracking on company-provided vehicles. Make it clear that no employee should have any expectation of privacy when using a company vehicle.
  • Let employees know that employees’ continued use of the vehicle with this knowledge constitutes consent for the employer to access the information provided by the technology.
  • Clearly state what rules are allowed for disabling the GPS tracking technology during off-work hours.  Also clearly state that employees may not damage, disable, or shut down systems during work hours.
  • Be clear about the times that the company will monitor the GPS on the vehicle – i.e. only during work hours, or at all times when the vehicle is being used.
  • Require a written acknowledgment by the employee consenting to and understanding that the company vehicle s/he is using is company property will be monitored by the company’s GPS tracking system.

As with any human resource policy, consistently apply it with all employees affected by the policy.