Employee Time Tracking: The Verdict’s Out

Recently a pair of decisions involving the tracking of employees was handed down from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, which upholds the rights of employers to track the location of their workers. This trend has been considered as “pushing the limits” of the law and the privacy rights! So what are the rights of an employer and/or employee when it comes to employee time tracking?

In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court created an exception for the “Searching of Workplaces”, which held “that if an employer is required to obtain a warrant each time it wanted to search an office for a work-related purpose, it would not help in assuring the policies of the business or office were conducive to required conduct.”

Some workers have argued that a GPS tracking service violates privacy legislation and represents an “offence to the dignity” of companies’ employees.

The companies, on the other hand, insist it is reasonable to use the GPS data to more efficiently deploy its staff, ensure that employee time tracking is efficient, and to be sure that a worker is were they said they were.

My take on this is that, “we as employees have rights and privileges to privacy, but that is limited to the extent that we are paid to perform a job. While on the clock, it is our responsibility to fulfill our obligation to the duties of the position. If an employer suspects that, an employee is not performing as required or that said employee is violating policies, then it has the right to use at its disposal certain means of verifying that suspicion.”

It is obvious now that employees have become a bit less resistant as to the way companies use GPS data. Largely used as a tracking tool in the early years, it was given the “”Big Brother”” connotation. Now organizations have put the employee location information to other uses, which can benefit the employee as well other than being used as time tracking software! Such as assuring drivers are taking the most direct routes to their destinations, or tracking the time a salesperson remains on a sales call to see if there’s a correlation between “length of call” and “likelihood of sale.” We are seeing less resistance to GPS tracking as the demographics have introduced a new wave of younger, more social-media friendly employees. As time and technology advance, this change will take time to filter in, but the resistance will lessen over time.

Some workers have argued that a employee time tracking violates privacy legislation and represents an “offence to the dignity” of companies’ employees.