Location-Based Services (LBS) available for GPS-enabled telephones have opened new doors to managers who want to keep a watchful eye on their mobile workers. Service agreements are available with a company’s cellular provider to log employees’ movements, including enabling tracking when the employee has entered or exited a predefined region (called GeoFencing) and to send an alert when a specified speed limit has been exceeded.
While LBS has obvious safety benefits (such as locating a mobile worker who may be lost or in need of assistance), is there a point at which an individual’s right to privacy is at risk with this technology? If yes, where would you suggest this tracking technology has the potential to invade an employee’s privacy? Assume you are a manager at a company that subscribes to LBS. How will you address any privacy issues raised by your employees about the data you will receive from the mobile device?
If i were a manager i would be sure my employees knew the power of LBS and the consequences of doing something wrong. If my employees were using work phones given by the company i would tell them that it is for strictly business and personal phones are for their own choosing. I would explain to them what would happen if they were caught using the work phone for non work use. I think LBS is a great invention because you can never be sure if your employees are on track all the time or if they are wasting time and using work materials for the wrong reasons.
An individual’s right to privacy is not stated in the Bill of Rights, it is only implied and it only applies to invasions of privacy made by state or federal government agencies through things like illegal search and seizure. Employers can and do monitor their employees. Many companies monitor employee e-mail usage. People are being paid for their time at work and employers have a right to expect productivity and good conduct on the company’s behalf in return. To address a privacy issue I would clearly state to employees our monitoring policy and they could choose to exercise their perceived right to privacy from an employer by not working at this particular company.
While on company time, an employee should not expect a right to privacy while ‘on the job.’ A mobile worker should be just as responsible for their time and actions as a fixed employee. If a mobile worker is using company owned materials (vehicle, phone, etc) then whatever they use those materials for should be open for review and inspection. If a mobile worker is using their own materials (vehicle, phone) then while they should be held accountable for their actions while on company time, I do not believe that their personal belongings should be subject to invasion of privacy by their employers.
With that said, an employer should be open and direct with their employees about their expectations especially in regards to privacy. It’s their responsibility to make sure there are no ‘grey areas’ and an employee should address any concerns they have about their rights.
I think that when an employee joins a company they are agreeing to that company’s particular rules and guidelines. If a company chooses to use LBS then its really up to the company. When an employee is on company time, I do think they have a right to monitor them. However, I do think the employee should be aware of each aspect that he is being monitored. A business can cross the line when they monitor employees that aren’t on company time. Its an invasion of privacy when the worker isn’t still clocked in. As a manager I would put forward the truth, and then for anyone who was still unsatisfied, I’d let them know that as an employee it is the companies job to know what you’re doing.
I think one of the struggles that businesses have had to work through is what constitutes “privacy” while at work/on company time. With the incredible advance in technology, it’s both a blessing and a curse. Businesses need to evaluate the issue on their end and have a responsibility to educate their employees. Employees need to evaluate their privacy standards and make sure they understand the position of the employer. Good post