It’s no surprise that so many field service businesses are now making use of tracking technology.
It provides a faster, safer and more effective way to manage teams of mobile workers.
By providing accurate real-time data on where each worker is and what they’re doing - it has transformed the way mobile service operations can be handled.
But keeping data on employee movements also comes with some legal responsibilities that you need to be aware of. Here’s a look at exactly what you need to know about employee tracking laws:
In the UK, the two laws that you need to be familiar with are the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Human Rights Act
It’s article eight of this legislation which covers the privacy of individuals - including employees. The act makes it illegal to misuse any personal data that’s obtained through tracking a device or vehicle.
Data Protection Act 1998
Under this act, ‘personal data’ is classed as information that’s able to be linked to an individual and can be used to inform or influence actions that affect that person.
So this will clearly apply to any data that’s collected by something like a mobile workforce management system - the data is linked to individuals and it’s used to help make decisions which affect them.
It means that this ‘personal data’ has to be treated according to the guidelines of the Data Protection Act 1998, which states that:
"The data must be processed fairly and lawfully, obtained for lawful purposes, adequate and relevant, accurate, not kept by the company for longer than is necessary, treated in accordance with the employee's rights and kept securely."
Generally, this is covered by ensuring a commonsense approach. You should be open and transparent about how and why you’re tracking employee vehicles and/or devices and you should make sure the data that’s collected is used only for their intended business purposes - to improve efficiency and ensure safety.
For any data that your company does store, you need to make sure that it’s kept securely, have business reasons for storing it and have a policy to manage how long you’re going to keep the information for.
With tracking technology being relatively new, there are still some grey areas in terms of legislation. So while there may not be legal requirements, there are steps you can take to minimise any potential risks.
One of these is to create a data policy. This is a simple document that sets out how your company collects data, which data it collects and the reasons for doing so. It should provide employees with a guideline of what’s expected of them in terms of using tracking technology.
It should also clearly state the employer’s responsibilities and commitments to ensuring that data usage is legal, legitimate and fair. It creates a policy that employees can opt into - showing that they understand how tracking works and consent to their data being used.
Image source: Pixabay.com/Mohamed Hassan