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Employers may need to notify employees about tracking devices

GPS tracking on phone screen

(georgejmclittle/Deposit Photos)

Employers use vehicle tracking devices for a variety of reasons. Employee location data can help improve routing, safety, record keeping, and customer service. Emerging state laws, however, mean that a growing number of employers have to notify employees when tracking devices are in use.

As of April, New Jersey becomes the latest state to establish requirements about employee monitoring. New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois also place restrictions on employee monitoring outside the workplace.

The New Jersey law, which is specific to vehicle monitoring, applies regardless of whether the employee uses a company-owned or personal vehicle. Tracking devices covered under the law include cellphone apps with geolocation technology, insurance safe driving monitors, and GPS locators.

Under the law, employers must provide written notice to current employees and new hires. An employer who knowingly uses a vehicle tracking device without providing such notice may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $2,500 for subsequent violations.

The New Jersey law exempts tracking devices used solely for expense reimbursement. The law expressly acknowledges that it does not supersede regulations governing interstate commerce, including devices mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Employers are advised to audit tracking devices used in employee vehicles as well as geolocation tools on employee devices.

It’s important to build a thorough understanding of all the ways employees are being monitored and know the applicable laws in your state. Consider whether employee tracking activity meets a justifiable business need. If tracking exceeds business requirements, update company practices and technology accordingly.

Be sure you have a written tracking policy that outlines when and how employees can expect to be monitored. Communicate the policy to all employees and ask employees to provide acknowledgment.

Ensure that the company has adequate safeguards for employee location data, and pay attention to data security and access privileges to protect employees from potential “bad actors” both inside and outside the organization.

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