Vehicle Tracking Policy and the Law
When used effectively, vehicle tracking can enhance business performance, reduce costs associated with insurance and fuel and improve staff confidence. However, it may at first have negative connotations with your staff. Some drivers may associate vehicle tracking with a lack of trust, leaving them feeling under suspicion and defensive.
To counter these negative impressions, fleet managers and business owners will need to ensure that the introduction of a new vehicle tracking system is communicated to staff with transparency. But most importantly of all they will need to make sure that they are operating within the law.
In this article we’re going to look at what the law has to say about vehicle tracking. We’ll begin with one of the most important pieces of legislation regarding this.
Dealing with vehicle-tracking in an open manner with staff is required by law. If you track any of your staff’s vehicles without first obtaining their permission, you may be breaking the law. This is because vehicle tracking can collect personal data relating to the driver, which is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998. Even if this is not the obvious intention, the data protection act still applies as the potential is there.
When a car is used by a specific driver, any in-vehicle tracking system which records or sends information regarding the location of that vehicle, how far it has been driven, and other information regarding the driver’s use of the vehicle, is collecting personal information about the driver. For this reason, it is important to ensure that all your staff are aware of the vehicle-tracking system and that this is covered in their contract of employment.
Your Staff’s Civil Liberties
Using a vehicle tracking system will give you access to personal data relating to your employees. As well as issues surrounding data protection, if implemented incorrectly, this has the potential to be an infringement of their human rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. When considering whether to implement a vehicle tracking policy you should weigh up the benefits, including risk management and any reductions in costs, against the civil liberties of your employees, in particular their right to a family and private life.
The government’s recommendation is that it would be beneficial to implement an impact assessment to consider in detail whether the advantages of using the vehicle-tracking system will outweigh any adverse impact.
How to Comply with the Legal Requirements
Complying with the following steps should ensure that you are meeting the requirements of the Data Protection Act:
- Create a Vehicle Usage Policy for your staff. Such a policy should make it clear the extent of private use by your staff that would be allowed (if at all), or any other conditions attached to the vehicle’s usage.
- Be open and honest with your employees about the implementation of the vehicle-tracking system. Inform them of the personal information that will be collected, for what purpose it will be collected, the extent of the monitoring, and who will have access to that information.
- It is strongly recommended that you make it clear to staff that they will not be subject to any monitoring outside of staff hours. This should lessen any concerns they may have of being under suspicion.
- Your employees must consent to the vehicle tracking systems being installed in their vehicles. This consent can be explicit or implicit. Such consent can be obtained by ensuring the details regarding the vehicle tracking system form part of their employment contract. Alternatively, a separate policy could be transmitted to all staff to ensure that they are all aware of the monitoring.
Can Staff Object to being Monitored?
Individual staff can refuse permission to allow you to collect personal data, but only on the grounds that the collection and processing of the information gained through the vehicle tracking system is causing them, or is likely to cause them, substantial damage or distress and that the level of damage or distress is unwarranted. They must provide specific details of how this would be the case.
If a member of staff refuses permission, you must respond to their request within 21 days, to state either:
- their request to cease the monitoring will be complied with
- their request will not be complied with because it was unjustified, giving specific reasons
Also note that if you allow private use of a vehicle by staff, monitoring its use when used privately is likely to be illegal and contrary to the Human Rights Act.
Using the Information
Information obtained through the vehicle tracking systems may potentially be personal data. Accordingly, your staff have the right to request copies of any records kept. You must, therefore, ensure that the information is stored in such a way that any information kept is secured, but accessible to the extent that any staff disclosure requests can be complied with. Any information that is collected and not stored must be disposed of securely.