Restrictions on GPS Tracking Employers Must Know

Feb 11, 2019

Rich Weddell

Last updated Feb 18, 2019

For small businesses requiring drivers, fuel is often one of the largest expenses. Offering fuel cards to employees enables an efficient reimburse process and allows employers to optimise fuel costs.

Preventing Fuel Card Fraud

Regardless of how good the employees are (or how loyal), it’s human nature to be tempted to maximise their income if there’s an opportunity. Hence, fuel card fraud, which often involves using the company fuel card for personal vehicles, is of serious concern to many employers.

There are a few checks and balances the management can embed in the process to minimise fraudulent claims such as assigning a unique PIN number to each employee and setting daily spending limits.

Most effective and popular method, however, is installing GPS fleet tracking systems; these systems compare the actual costs with the estimates calculated based on the distance and route travelled to flag any suspicious activities. It serves as both a deterrent to undesirable behaviour and evidence against those who commit fraud.

Nowadays, these GPS systems offer a variety of functionalities. For instance, they can monitor routes and distance driven, obtain information on fuel use, and shut down the ignition completely when vehicles get stolen.

Understanding the Legal Boundaries of GPS Tracking

When leveraging such technology, employers must consider the legalities of employee surveillance as well as its impact on employee morale. Nobody likes to be spied on, especially without their knowledge or consent.

Australia does not have uniform laws covering tracking surveillance. Nevertheless, most states have Acts covering its use and restrictions. Only Queensland and Tasmania do not have specific laws related to the subject. New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory have the strictest policies and it’s possible that the rest of the country might be adopting similar measures. Therefore, if you operate nationally, you might want to comply with the strictest laws (such as NSW’s Workplace Surveillance Act) as the standard across your operations.

In general, using a tracking device to intentionally track and record employees’ activities is a criminal offence without the consent, express or implied, of all parties involved [1].

Requirements for Employee GPS Tracking Across States

NSW Workplace Surveillance Act (Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory also similar)

  • Written notice to employees no less than 14 days before GPS tracking will commence including information such as the type of surveillance, method of data collection, and timeline
  • Any surveillance device clearly visible with signs
  • Restrictions on the placement of the devices and use of data collected:
    • Work surveillance only allowed when the employee is ‘at work’
    • Surveillance records not shared or disclosed unless the use is related to legitimate business activities, disclosure to law enforcement, or any imminent threat of violence

Western Australia, The Surveillance Devices Act from 1998

  • Employee consent to surveillance and installation of devices
    • A maximum penalty of $50,000 fine for violations
  • Intentional or unintentional recording (camera or listening device) of any private conversation prohibited

Victoria, The Surveillance Device Act of 1999

  • Employee consent to surveillance (implied or express)
  • Sharing recordings of GPS surveillance only allowed when it’s necessary for the protection of the employer’s lawful interests

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.fleetdynamics.com.au/gps-tracking-legalities-australia/
  2. https://legalvision.com.au/tracking-employees/

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About the author
Rich Weddell
Over 40 years in transport and logistics.
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