As technology continues to get more sophisticated year over year, concerns over privacy in the workplace continue to rise.

Most employees understand that emails sent using a company email account or files stored on a company device are considered property of the employer. They also accept a level of workplace monitoring through productivity applications and time tracking. Many employees have the expectation that their personal devices and time are not subject to employer access. But in an age where employees use their personal devices for work, how far is too far when it comes to monitoring employee locations?

Employers often have a few reasons for monitoring employees in the workplace. They may want to track and increase productivity, ensure employees are working, protect confidential information, or help create an accountable environment that dissuades events like sexual harassment, theft, and data breaches.

No matter the reason for monitoring employees, the laws and rules surrounding this can get a little blurry in a time when more and more employees use personal devices, like smartphones, for work activity. Is it appropriate for employers to assume they can monitor things like an employee’s location from their phone? Yes, but it’s important for employers to remember that there are two sides to monitoring employees on their personal devices.

As an employer, you have the right to track employee locations and time worked while they are on the clock. Tracking helps both the employer and employees by keeping employees accountable, making sure the work is being done, and providing the employer with information on productivity and cost-cutting measures. Employees, though, have a reasonable expectation that their location remains private when they are not on the clock unless otherwise agreed before the employee accepted the job.

So, with the laws and expectations around location tracking on personal devices being so tricky, how do employers ensure that they are doing all they can to protect themselves and the privacy of their employees?

Many GPS tracking software uses live breadcrumb GPS tracking. Live breadcrumb trails typically track an employee’s location at set intervals, leaving a log of times and locations for each employee throughout the work period. This can be burdensome for supervisors to keep an eye on, especially for businesses with more than a handful of employees. It can also backfire if an employee forgets to clock out and is tracked off the clock.

At Chronotek, we’ve solved this problem with our proprietary GPS Smart Tracks™ technology. Chronotek supplies supervisors with only the live information they need in order to take action.

The Chronotek app:

  • Asks for permission to track location upon download
  • Gets a location track at clock-in
  • Immediately reports if the employee is tracked at the job or not (on clock-in and clock-out)
  • Reports if the employee leaves the job site while still on the clock and if they return
  • Shows the locations that the employee visits while on the clock
  • Reports if the employee disables location services while on the clock
  • Displays on the employee’s clock-in screen that location tracking is enabled

An employee’s on-the-clock activity is reported after the time card is closed, which protects employers from invading the privacy of employees in cases where they forget to clock out. This is a major difference from many other GPS tracking apps that report potentially sensitive information no matter what.

Employers looking to monitor employee locations from devices like smartphones have a lot to consider when it comes to privacy. Do they allow employees to use personal devices? Which type of GPS tracking is both useful and protects privacy? No matter which route they choose to take, it’s important for employers to develop clear policies regarding employee monitoring so that both the employer and employees understand the expectations each party holds.

Curious about Chronotek’s other smart features like site phone linking and job costing reports? Learn more here.