Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

The Advantages and Pitfalls of Employee Monitoring

July 2008, by Richard Alaniz


Restrictions on Employee Monitoring

As the Halpin case proves, there are some instances employers can monitor employees without their consent. In many jurisdictions, the law still lags behind the technology, and there are some legal gray areas when it comes to monitoring employees.

In several states though, there is no gray — employee surveillance is illegal without employee consent. Currently, two states — Connecticut and Delaware — require employee notification if an employer is utilizing electronic surveillance. Connecticut, California, Rhode Island, and New York have laws on the books regarding an employer’s use of video surveillance. Generally, federal law allows employers to monitor work-related use of telephone, e-mail, and other communications. Some unions have also raised the issue of GPS and other types of employee monitoring in contract negotiations. It is a mandatory subject of bargaining where a collective bargaining agreement is in effect.

In any case, if a company is considering installing employee surveillance devices, it makes sense to check applicable laws to see what restrictions exist.

Educating Employees Minimizes Risk

Even if the law allows employers to use surveillance methods without employees’ knowledge, it’s often wise to alert and educate employees about the fact that they may be monitored. The deterrent effect can help — employees will be less apt to take unauthorized breaks, leave work early, visit inappropriate Web sites, or otherwise engage in unacceptable behavior if they know such behavior could be, or is, tracked.

Surveillance technology also carries a sense of “Big Brother is watching” and can lead to ill will among employees, which may eventually take the form of potential legal claims. By creating reasonable policies and educating employees about them, employers can go a long way toward allaying employee concerns while enjoying the benefits of monitoring technology.

Employers should develop specific and explicit policies on employee monitoring, whether it involves e-mail, cell phone use, or GPS tracking. The policy should remind employees that company vehicles, computers, and any company-issued communication devices belong to the employer and are to be used for work-related purposes. Companies should also make it clear they reserve the right to track employees.

It may also be wise to spell out what is acceptable personal use of company equipment, and draw a clear line regarding what is inappropriate. It is generally not realistic, and may be legally unenforceable, to prohibit all personal use of phones, the Internet, and the like during work hours. Even if employees may not legally be entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy while driving company cars on company business, strict, inflexible policies are likely to have an alienating effect.

Once a company has developed a policy, educating employees about the policy and the reasons for surveillance technology is the next step. If drivers and other employees understand why monitoring devices are being used, they are more likely to accept them. Education on the topic should be ongoing, according to the AMA.

“Most employees receive policies regarding use of office business tools and privacy issues on the first day of employment, but too often they don’t read them. Employers need to do more than hand over a written policy,” said Manny Avramidis, senior vice president of global human resources for AMA, in a statement. “They should educate employees on company expectations and offer training on an annual basis.”

Companies should also consider having employees sign a consent form when they are first hired or when a monitoring program takes effect. This protects companies in case an employee threatens legal action over invasion of privacy or some other matter related to monitoring.

Employee monitoring will definitely become even more common as technology improves and costs for surveillance continue to decrease. Those who oversee vehicle fleets should certainly consider the advantages they could reap from surveillance technology in company computers and GPS systems in cars, trucks, and cell phones. At the same time, employers should bear in mind that the law is evolving, and it makes sense to research what is legal in each state.

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  1. 1. Issabele Cox [ May 01, 2015 @ 01:46AM ]

    A pretty great post. In all workstations employee monitoring strategy should be applied. Thus employers can track their employees easily. I think EaseMon may helps you to make it easier.

  2. 2. Richard Polak [ June 10, 2015 @ 12:29PM ]

    Hi! Thank you for a good article. Our company since 2013 is used system of monitoring employees. This system includes components such as video cameras in the workplace, keylogger software Refog ( and created by our IT-specialists program of work time tracking.

  3. 3. abb [ August 18, 2015 @ 06:16AM ]


  4. 4. Letstrak [ January 19, 2016 @ 01:07AM ]

    Its a great article on employee fleet tracking

  5. 5. rd [ November 13, 2016 @ 08:48PM ]

    Is Your GPS Idle Time Data Accurate? Likely it is not and will not be. the reason is it is not measuring idle engine time. It turns on with the twist of the key even in opposite direction when battery is needed and no engine. Listening to the radio or powering up work items via the car usb cigerrete lighter ports use for electronics and driver gps etc... Even if one leaves on the park light s to protect the vehicle or the dome depending on wiring arrangement it may trigger the flag for this report. Warming up the car via the car remote will trigger it and excessive idle even though it has internal shut off time to prevent it in the car from excessively using up the gas. Etc..etc...etc.... Fake reports account for what the report says are the variables to determining idle time and its savings only to you ! - don't buy it waste of money - costs way more than you will save and breaks easily.
    In verizon vehicles - simple using the casr electronic winter starter triggers the report.

    It also is triggered whenever the engine is “OFF”, and the car key is pivoted for cigerette lighter, parking lights , etc… radio — playing radio in car in parking lot and waiting for your big quack manager to get down teh stairs and out of a meeting with his boss — while you wait for him as told to do in the car — will flag your vehicle and you as a screw off —— it shows as idle time — even though the engine was off the whole time — he in a few months forgets whay happened and he and his boss say get rid of you in back room — then you cant reme,ber incident so long ago when he shows veruy old report to you saying you idles engine excessive report = when all you did is rotate key to battery fro radio — since doing so started the incorrectly installed gps unit up as well— thus anytime the keyy is in the slot rotated eiethr way = idel time. Many will have two keys run out to lot and start car in winter — shovel the lot tpolet the cars out for company — then manager thinks you screwed off because idle time is on - afte you shoveled oyut the lot — also if you want parking light protection for car — you could activate gps as idle time - when engine is off - depending on gps install method used. ——

    older company cars where a mechanic tells you to rotate the wheels and engine to improve its performance periodically — menaing just go af ro a spin — even though great for vehicle — the report tells your manage to fire you and he he being a dunkoff will do so without you figuring out 6 months later what and why ot was done —


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