Surveillance by Employers
Can an employer conduct surveillance on an employee using GPS?
Employers who suspect an employee of misconduct, in particular of unauthorized absences or time theft, may seek to place such employee on surveillance in order to obtain the evidence necessary to discipline or terminate such employee.
What type of surveillance tools are used by employers?
Employers can conduct surveillance using tools such as a swipe-card system, which data can be used for time-management and disciplinary purposes, or cameras. For employers with workers in the field, a GPS (Global Positioning System) tracker may be used to track mobile employees. These systems can in fact track a variety of data such as, vehicle start and stop times, speed, location, mileage and off-shift parking location as well as the vehicle’s engine operation. Engine operation can include data about distance travelled, braking and acceleration, and when the vehicle is idle or turned off. Regardless of the form of surveillance the employer implements, there should be a policy and employees should be informed of such surveillance. These systems could be put in place due to a growing concern of employee fraud, a workplace complaint or simply ensuring employee loyalty.
Are Employers allowed to use GPS units to track employees?
The Investigators Group is a private investigation firm and we have been consulted on many occasions about the legality of employers using GPS in a vehicle as a means of monitoring their employees’ whereabouts. There are various small GPS transmitters that can be used, often configured with a cellular phone plan. This allows the GPS device to operate like a cell phone and allows the private investigator to view the GPS device online. The convenience of this setup allows the private investigator to see and track the movement of the GPS unit (and thereby the vehicle to which it is attached) and a detailed map of the vehicle’s locations. The only limitation with this set up is the battery life of the GPS unit, which battery life is shortened the more frequently the private investigator communicates with the GPS unit.
Provided the employer owns the vehicle (being a company vehicle), it is not illegal to install a GPS tracker. And provided that the information collected is used solely for the purposes reasonably required to manage an employment relationship, a GPS system is used in this manner is for legitimate, reasonable, business purposes. If the vehicle is not owned by the company, then consent from the vehicle owner is required to install a GPS tracker. Failure to obtain consent or improper use of a GPS unit is a breach of privacy laws and any data collected in such a manner is inadmissible evidence.
To discuss GPS tracking, surveillance and how best to investigate employee misconduct issues, contact The Investigators Group for more information.
By Sean Gladney, Vice-President, The Investigators Group Inc.
Sean Gladney is a licensed private investigator. He conducts workplace investigations involving harassment, bullying, discrimination and other forms of misconduct. Sean conducts investigations both provincial laws as well as under the Canada Labour Code in federally - regulated workplaces.
For more information regarding workplace harassment investigations, you can contact Sean via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Investigators Group Inc. (IGI) was established in 1995 as a full service private investigation and security firm serving individuals across North America. We serve the legal, insurance and corporate communities as well as individuals through our civil and executive services. IGI provides professional surveillance services, fraud investigators, workplace investigations, undercover operations, loss prevention and security services.
Contact us today so we can provide the appropriate investigative solution for all your needs.