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December 19, 2022

Complete Guide to Tracking Employees With GPS: Laws & Best Practices


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The use of GPS tracking devices to monitor employees has become increasingly popular in recent years. If you’re a business owner that’s thinking of using an employee location tracking app, then you might want to consider the expectation of privacy and legal ramifications.

While there are many benefits to this practice, there are also legal and ethical concerns that must be considered. This guide will provide an overview of the laws governing GPS tracking of employees and best practices for employers. 

Before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at why tracking employees with GPS tracking tools have become so popular.

The popularity of tracking employees with GPS 

Being able to track employee location is becoming a trend in the workplace. It is an easy way to keep track of employees and keep them safe and efficient. The reason for the rise in popularity is because a business can gain a lot from monitoring the GPS locations and activity of its employees, including the mobile following:

  • Promoting greater productivity by streamlining travel for delivery personnel or other mobile workers.

  • Monitoring the observance of labor laws and overtime.

  • Route optimization and fleet tracking for remote workers and field employees.

  • Mileage reports for remote teams.

  • Ensuring that employees are not speeding or otherwise breaking traffic laws.

  • Confirming that company policies are being followed.

  • Making sure that time records are accurate.

There are many ways to track employees, but using software that helps you track employees with GPS is the most effective. It's convenient, inexpensive, and easy to install. 

There are many benefits to this technology. It allows for real-time ability to track employees location and gives managers the ability to better monitor their employees' progress. Employees are also able to track their progress as well and are able to see where they are going throughout the day. 

While tracking employees location is now simple thanks to modern technology, your business shouldn't just start using it without thinking about the rules and regulations involved. You must determine whether GPS tracking is appropriate for your business and whether you must disclose its use to your employees. 

GPS tracking is debatable, and laws in many states limit how an employer can use it. Additionally, it can make it difficult to hire new workers because they might be concerned about their privacy if their employers track them.

To avoid any potential issues, let’s take a look at the legal obligations and ethical implications of workplace GPS tracking.

Is GPS employee tracking legal? Know the law before you start tracking employees’ location

In the United States, the use of GPS tracking for employee monitoring is generally considered legal as long as it is done in a way that respects the privacy rights of the employees being tracked. However, there are a few specific laws that may apply to the use of GPS tracking for employee monitoring, depending on the circumstances.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is a federal law that prohibits the interception of electronic communications, including GPS tracking data, without the consent of at least one of the parties involved. This means that employers must obtain the consent of their employees before implementing an employee GPS tracking policy to monitor their location or movements.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment-related issues. The FLSA does not specifically address the use of GPS tracking for employee monitoring, but it does require that employers accurately record the hours worked by their employees. Some employers may use GPS tracking to help ensure that they are accurately recording the hours worked by their employees, but they must do so in a way that complies with the FLSA and other applicable laws.

In addition to federal laws, state and local laws may also apply to the use of GPS employee tracking. Some states have specific laws that regulate the use of GPS tracking for employee monitoring, so it is important for employers to be aware of any applicable state or local laws in the area where they operate.

There are a few exceptions to these federal GPS tracking laws, however. Employers may track employees without their consent if they can show that the tracking is necessary for the safety of the employee or the company. 

For example, employers may track employees who work in high-risk environments through GPS in company vehicles that they drive. This is because the vehicle owner is the company itself. They aren’t allowed to do so for employee-owned vehicles.

However, even if consent is obtained, there are still some restrictions on how GPS data can be used. For example, employers cannot use GPS tracking to discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, or gender. 

In addition, GPS data must be used in a way that is consistent with the purpose for which it was collected. For example, if an employer collects GPS data for the purpose of tracking employee productivity, the data cannot be used for any other purpose, such as monitoring employee whereabouts outside of work hours.

Finally, employers should be aware that GPS tracking data is considered personal information under data protection laws. As such, employers must take steps to protect the data from unauthorized access and disclosure.

Overall, the use of GPS tracking for employee monitoring is generally considered legal in the United States as long as it is done in a way that respects the privacy rights of the employees being tracked, and as long as it complies with any applicable federal, state, and local laws. 

When in doubt, it is always best to consult with an attorney to ensure that your tracking program is compliant with the law.

Common limitations of the GPS tracking employees laws

In the United States, there are laws that protect employees from being tracked 24/7 by their employers without warning or their consent. Even though GPS tracking on company vehicles is legal, these laws have some common limitations.

  1. Most of these laws only apply to private-sector employers. This means that public sector employers, like the government, can track their employees without consent.

  2. Even in the private sector, these laws only apply to employee location tracking while they are on the job. This means that employers can still technically track employees when they are off the clock, such as when they are on vacation or sick leave.

  3. These laws typically only apply to GPS tracking and employee tracking devices, and not other forms of tracking, like tracking employee email or internet usage.

  4. These laws typically only protect employees from being tracked without their consent. They do not protect employees from being fired or disciplined for refusing to be tracked.

  5. These laws are always evolving and changing. This means that what is considered legal today may not be legal tomorrow. Employers should always consult with an attorney to make sure they are in compliance with the latest laws.

10 GPS tracking employees best practices to be on the safe side

If you want to track employees' location, you should make sure that your staff is aware of how you are monitoring them and that they feel comfortable raising any concerns about it. This is the best way to safeguard yourself from legal trouble. 

There are a few best practices to follow to ensure everyone stays safe and comfortable when you track employee cell phone location and vehicles. Let’s get into them.

1. Get explicit consent from employees before tracking them

This should include letting them know why you’re tracking them, how the data will be used, and how long it will be kept.

2. Only track employees during work hours

Once they clock out for the day, their location is no longer your concern.

3. Use GPS tracking data for business purposes only 

Do not share it with anyone outside of the company or use it for personal gain.

4. Store GPS data securely and limit access to it 

Ensure that only authorized personnel can view the data and that it’s properly encrypted.

5. Respect employees’ privacy when tracking them

Do not invade their personal space or stalk them outside of work.

6. Use GPS tracking data to improve employee safety, not to punish them 

If an employee makes a mistake, work with them to correct it instead of using the data to reprimand them.

7. Do not use GPS tracking to micromanage employees 

Allow them to work independently and trust that they will get the job done.

8. If an employee requests to not be tracked, respect their wishes 

There may be valid reasons for why they don’t want to be followed.

9. Regularly review GPS tracking data to ensure it’s accurate

Mistakes can happen, so it’s important to catch them and correct them.

10. Be transparent with employees about GPS tracking

If they have questions, answer them truthfully. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to this sensitive issue.

What to look for in your GPS employee tracker: 10 must-have features

A GPS tracker for employees is a great way to keep track of your employees and make sure they are where they are supposed to be. There are a lot of different employee GPS trackers on the market, so it can be hard to know which one to choose. 

Here are 10 must-have features to look for in your employee location tracking system.

1. Real-time tracking 

You should be able to track your employees through real time GPS tracking so you know where they are at all times.

2. Historical data

A good GPS employee tracker will keep track of where your employees have been so you can see if they are sticking to their routes.

3. Geofencing

Geofencing allows you to create virtual boundaries and get alerts if your employees cross them. This is great for making sure your employees stay on-site or stay within a certain area.

4. Battery life

You don’t want your employee GPS tracker to die in the middle of the day, so make sure it has a good battery life.

5. Accuracy

Make sure the tracker you choose is accurate so you can trust the data it is giving you.

6. Ease of use

You should be able to easily install and use your employee GPS tracker.

7. Affordable

You don’t want to break the bank to buy an employee GPS tracker, so make sure it is affordable.

8. Scalable

If your company grows, you should be able to easily add more employees to your tracker.

9. Reliable

You should be able to rely on your employee GPS tracker to work when you need it to.

10. Good Customer Service

If you have any problems with your GPS tracking employees, you should be able to get help from the company’s customer support.

Get the Atto employee GPS tracking app and control your field team

If you manage a field team, you know how important it is to stay on top of where your employees are at all times. 

Atto is a GPS and time-tracking app that gives you complete control over your field team and mobile employees. With Atto, you can see where your employees are in real-time, set up geofences to track when they enter or leave specific locations, and get detailed reports on employee whereabouts. 

Atto is the perfect solution for keeping tabs on your mobile teams and ensuring that they are always where they're supposed to be. It’s the perfect employee tracking app to fit your business needs.

For other timekeeping needs, Atto also functions as a timesheet app with a geofencing feature, allowing your employees to clock in only when they’re at the worksite. 

Try Atto for Free!

Key takeaways on GPS tracking for employees

Questions like “Can employers track your location?” and “Can my employer see my location through GPS on company vehicles?” are incredibly important questions that voice the privacy concerns of employees.

As an employer, you may be considering GPS tracking for employees in order to improve productivity and efficiency. However, before making a decision, it's important to understand the potential implications and legalities involved.

Here are some key takeaways on GPS tracking for employees:

  1. Employees should be made aware of any tracking that is taking place, and should give their consent.

  2. GPS tracking can have a negative effect on employee morale, and may be seen as an invasion of privacy.

  3. There are potential legal implications to consider.

  4. GPS tracking data can be used as evidence in disciplinary or legal proceedings.

  5. If you do decide to use GPS tracking, make sure you have a clear policy in place and that employees are fully aware of it.


Does GPS tracking violate employee privacy?

Legally speaking, no. Some people may believe that GPS tracking violates employee privacy, but when companies use this data correctly and obtain consent from their employees, then there should be no privacy issues.

Can my employer track my phone location?

Most employers can track an employee's phone location if they have a legitimate business reason for doing so. This includes the mobile workforce and field service teams for whom employers need to know the whereabouts of, or when you use your phone for work. You should still give your consent for this.

Can my employer track my personal phone location?

Yes, your employer may track your personal phone location if you have given them permission to do so. Employers may use this information to track your business hours, ensure you are working during your scheduled shifts, and see if you are taking authorized breaks.

Can my employer track my laptop location?

Yes, your employer can track your laptop location if they have the appropriate software installed. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as ensuring that company equipment is used for business purposes only or tracking employee productivity. 

What are the California rules on tracking employees with gps?

As of 2016, California employers are not allowed to track their employees using GPS devices without the employees’ consent. However, employers are allowed to track company-owned vehicles that already have GPS installed without having to obtain consent from employees. 

What is the Oregon law on tracking employees with gps on personal phones?

There is no specific Oregon law on tracking employees with GPS on personal phones. However, employers should be aware of the potential privacy implications of such tracking and take steps to ensure that employees are aware of and consent to the tracking.

What is the Texas law on GPS tracking of employees?

In Texas, there is no state law specifically addressing the issue of GPS tracking of employees. However, some Texas cities have passed ordinances prohibiting the use of GPS-tracking devices to track the location of city employees. For example, the city of Austin has an ordinance that prohibits the use of GPS tracking devices to track the location of city employees without the employee's consent.

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