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Car tracking devices: - Are these allowed or are you breaching your employee's privacy?

by , 26 July 2013
You must respect your employees' right to privacy at the workplace. But what happens in an event where you want to install tracking devices to company cars and your employee accuses you of infringing his right to privacy? Read on to find out what the law says about tracking devices in company cars and your employee's privacy.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, you can't expect your employees to 'check their privacy at the door' when they enter the workplace. But you're entitled to expect integrity, honesty and loyalty from your employees.

But what happens when you want to protect your businesses' interests and your employees argues it's an invasion of his privacy?

For instance, let's say you give Joe (your employee) a company car to use for company purposes.

He's allowed reasonable private use of the car. The car is fitted with a tracking device to:

  • Track the vehicle at all times
  • Monitor Joe's whereabouts during work hours
  • Monitor bad driving habits, like speeding and rapid acceleration.

Joe refuses to sign your company car policy because the vehicle will also track his movements when he's off duty. Joe argues that the policy is an invasion of his privacy.

So how do you balance your employee's right and the need to protect your business?

Here's what the law says about installing vehicle tracking devices and your employee's privacy

  • Your employee must have an expectation of privacy before he can invoke a right to privacy.
  • When the vehicle is being used during working hours, there's no expectation of privacy. In this case, you must weigh Joe's right to privacy against your right to safeguard your financial interests. You may also have to install this device for insurance purposes.
  • Joe may, however, have an expectation of privacy during those periods when he's using the car outside of working hours and for private purposes.
  • When Joe is off duty, the tracking device will record confidential information about him.

What about your rights to safeguard your property?

Whilst Joe may have a reasonable expectation of privacy when he's using the car privately, you're the owner of the car and have a financial interest in it.

During periods of private use the car is at risk of being stolen or damaged. Your proprietary (ownership) interest in the car could outweigh his right to privacy.

This means, tracking the vehicle during periods of private use would then be justified.

But what about your employee's right to privacy?

If Joe fears that the tracking device will elicit information about his personal conduct he should simply use an alternative means of transportation.

Well there you have it. Installing car tracking devices is justified. Just be sure you put a policy in place that outlines your reasons for installing tracking devices to avoid misunderstandings.

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