GPS Vehicle Trackers And The Law
With GPS tracking filtering down to the small fleets, grey fleets and company cars, many companies need guidance on how to implement a GPS tracking system into their fleet of vehicles. What does the law say about this? What rights do the employees have?
Tracking is a dirty word and has been used several times throughout this page. Tracking is an industry term. It is the Coke or Hoover umbrella term incorrectly used to collate many different products with many different aims.
'Tracking' is generally the point at which managers who look after staff and their vehicles in businesses not large enough to employ a specialist fleet manager first experience resistance. The word 'tracking' will generally be enough to cause unrest amongst many employees. ABAX find that one of the more common reasons for GPS tracking systems not being implemented is because of the headache of staff citing their legal rights against such a system.
GPS Vehicle Trackers And The Law
A misinformed employee who feels that they are about to be tracked will generally consult their worker's union, friends and family and the personal favourite, Google. Quite rightly, they will deliver chapter and verse the reasons why tracking on vehicles violates the Human Rights Act, Data Protection Act and various other laws that aim to protect us all in the work place - daunting for those who have not managed a fleet before. "We listen to what our staff have to say, and they have clearly done their homework on this... we'd better not rock the boat."
But it isn't so clear cut. The majority of acts and laws are grounded in a time before such technology actually existed. The use of GPS tracking technology is very rarely referenced in legal script. Instead one must begin to read the laws surrounding privacy and monitoring and adapt the legal framework to the technological application.
Essentially, using GPS to monitor vehicles and staff at work is not generally an issue. However it depends on what the application is being used for. Private monitoring is a BIG NO though - I think we can all agree that monitoring staff outside of work crosses a line!
The Information Commissioners Office gives the best guidance and supplementary material for in-vehicle monitoring offered by a government body or independent regulatory body. The ICO is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights. Unite the Union back the ICO's findings. They summarise that employees must be made aware of what is being monitored and why this is the case. Installing a GPS vehicle tracking system is essentially about being prepared and clear on what the purposes are before effectively communicating this to employees.
The aim of the ABAX Triplog is not tracking, but in fact it is to ensure total HMRC tax compliance surrounding the use of any vehicles used within the business, as well as financial gains through increased efficiencies.
Triplog is sold to fleets where the vehicles are essentially used in one of two ways:
- Business use only
- Personal and business use - typically for the company car and grey fleet sector
In a vehicle where personal use is allowed, Triplog will be set up in such a way that the driver is in complete control of all privacy settings. Nothing has to be conveyed to the employer without the prior permissions of the employee. The aim of the Triplog is to record all business mileage for accurate mileage expense claims. This keeps the tax man happy and saves £1,000's in benefit taxes. The employer can however request that the employee gives full transparency of any trips taking place in business hours. The business has a duty of care to protect their workforce - as laid out in the Health and Safety Act 1974 - and is required to do so by HMRC.
In a commercial vehicle, many perceive the situation to be in line with that of tracking, an infringement on employee privacy. Few employees will actually have the rights to sign into and administrate their Triplog, let alone amend their privacy settings. Why? Well that all comes down to tax compliance again.
Very few employees with company vans actually pay the required Benefit In Kind taxes to use the vehicle privately, regardless of whether their company allows private usage or not. Therefore as every journey undertaken in a company van should solely be for business purposes, there is actually no infringement of privacy through the introduction of a GPS monitoring system. That would only arise through misuse and abuse of the system by an administrator.
Like the ICO recommends, providing that clear instructions are laid out for the implementation and use of a fleet management system, with guidelines for both drivers and those administrating the system, everything is perfectly above board and legal.