Respect Employees' Privacy When Using Tracking Technology

If you’re in charge of a business’s vehicle fleet then you might have discovered that the human dimensions of the task can be a lot more challenging than the administrative side of it. One area that can require considerable tact and careful handling is the use of vehicle tracking technology.

Vehicle tracking devices such as those offered by Fleetdynamics have given business managers unprecedented control over their fleet operations in recent years. These in-vehicle devices link mobile phone technology with a network of global positioning satellites and computers to provide a wealth of information for managers. It goes well beyond just telling them where their vehicles are to providing information on fuel use, speed, RPMs, ignition status, odometer and even when the door’s open.

Perhaps one of its most useful features is its anti-theft capability. Some devices cannot only track your stolen vehicle’s whereabouts, they can shut down the ignition remotely, stopping it dead in its tracks for easy recovery.

There’s no doubt that vehicle tracking represents perhaps the greatest advance in fleet management efficiency in decades, but, if not used wisely it can also have a serious affect on staff morale. Why? Because, in spite of the fact that tracking exonerates staff in most instances, some staff can come to resent the fact that management is watching their every move and possibly invading their privacy.

State laws differ

While Australia does not have uniform laws covering the technology, most states have Acts covering their use. In fact only Queensland and Tasmania don’t. In NSW, Victoria, WA, NT and SA using a tracking device to intentionally track and record your employee’s activity is a criminal offence unless the consent of all parties to it is obtained. Consent can either be express or implied, including passive acceptance where the employee is fully informed. It must also be voluntary, informed and given by someone with the capacity to understand it.

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Good business policy would be to obtain written consent from all employees operating vehicles with such devices. It can also be helpful to display information on the vehicles (like window stickers) so drivers are fully aware at all times. If your business operates nationally then a uniform approach across the states and territories, even in those states not covered by legislation, would be wise.

Different states have specific requirements that must be met. In NSW and the ACT any surveillance devices must be clearly visible with clear signs. There are also restrictions on the placement of the devices and the purposes for which the data collected can be used.

It’s always advisable to check the relevant legislation in your state or territory before installing vehicle tracking technology and ensuring that company policy is informed by the relevant legislation.

But beyond those legislative requirements, it’s just good industrial relations to switch off tracking features outside working hours while keeping the stolen vehicle detection capability active. Your employees are entitled to privacy after working hours – let them know you respect that.

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