Employee time tracking is crucial for businesses to increase productivity and ensure proper payroll management. However, there are some pitfalls to consider when it comes to using GPS tracking in time clock apps. While GPS tracking can provide operational efficiencies, concerns around data privacy and legal compliance remain.
In this post, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of GPS tracking for timekeeping and discuss best practices to balance productivity with employee privacy.
The Hidden Dangers of “Free” GPS Tracking Apps
With free GPS tracking in a time clock app, the maxim “you get what you pay for” often applies. The lack of monetary investment in these tools can open businesses up to various serious risks:
1. Malware Vulnerabilities
Free apps may contain malware or spyware that puts company data at risk. One study found that most of the free-time tracking apps contained malware vulnerabilities due to poor screening practices.
2. Unsecured Data Practices
Most free apps lack proper data encryption, permissions controls, and security protocols. Many of the free Android apps do not use HTTPS or other cryptography to protect data. This leaves employee data exposed.
3. Questionable Data Monetization
It’s often unclear how free apps utilize and monetize the data they collect on employees. There are ethical concerns around potential data selling or unauthorized analytics without transparency to users.
4. Non-Compliance With Regulations
Free consumer apps likely won’t have the rigorous compliance standards, audits, and accountability more reputable enterprise software offers. This could put companies in legal jeopardy.
The risks span from data exposure to ethics to legal compliance. For businesses handling sensitive employee information, opting for a paid GPS tracking solution from a trusted, established provider is strongly recommended to avoid these pitfalls.
Investing in a secure, compliant platform offers far greater peace of mind when tracking employees.
Operational Limitations to Be Aware Of
Beyond just privacy and security risks, free GPS tracking tools often create headaches for operations and payroll in the following ways:
- Inaccurate Time Tracking: Glitches and disruptions in free consumer GPS tracking technology lead to incorrect timestamps, location information, and clock-in/out data. One study found average errors of 29 minutes per employee per week.
- Lack of Offline Tracking: If internet connectivity is disrupted, most free cloud-based apps won’t have offline functionality as a failsafe. This can lead to major gaps in coverage and lost productivity data.
- No Integration With Payroll, HR: Free tools likely won’t offer API integration options with existing payroll, scheduling, or HR systems. This creates inefficient silos in operational data.
- No Facial Recognition: Free apps won’t have advanced features like facial recognition for clock-in/out. This makes buddy punching easier, undermining operational integrity.
- Insufficient Reporting: Robust workforce analytics and reports needed for efficient scheduling, utilization tracking, and projections are lacking in free tools.
Paid enterprise solutions are better equipped to provide accurate, holistic timekeeping and location capabilities with advanced features, system integration, and better GPS technology. They also create operational synergies.
The Legal Risks of Non-Compliant GPS Tracking
Using insecure consumer-grade GPS tracking tools meant for personal use in a workplace setting can expose employers to substantial legal liability in the following ways:
1. FLSA Violations
If inaccurate tracking leads to incorrect pay and labor law violations, employees can claim unpaid wages and overtime. Fines for FLSA violations can tally $1000s per incident.
2. Lawsuits Over Privacy
Employees may claim invasion of privacy over GPS tracking, especially if they were unaware of the extent of data collection or were not given a chance to consent to it before implementation. This can prompt lawsuits.
3. HR Liability
If employee data is exposed in a breach of an unsecured free app, state and federal regulators can take legal action over the privacy violations. Fines up to $50,000 per record leaked are possible.
4. FTC Enforcement
The FTC may launch investigations into free apps that engage in data selling or misrepresentation over privacy practices. For companies, it’s vital to remember that violations carry massive fines.
To minimize substantial legal and financial risks, invest in an enterprise-grade app designed specifically for labor law-compliant, ethical employee tracking. Consulting qualified HR/legal counsel can also reduce risks.
Read Also: Why Car GPS Tracker Is An Essential Need
The Benefits of Paid GPS Tracking for Timekeeping
While free GPS tracking options have myriad risks and downsides, properly vetted paid solutions offer compelling advantages:
1. Data Security
Reputable paid GPS tracking solutions prioritize data security. The employee advanced encryption techniques, firewalls, role-based user access controls, and detailed audit logs to keep employee data safe, preventing breaches.
This level of security reduces the risk of data breaches significantly and protects sensitive employee information.
Industrial-strength apps designed specifically for workplaces have built-in mechanisms to adhere to all applicable labor regulations around timekeeping and location tracking.
This compliance ensures that businesses avoid potential legal issues and penalties associated with non-compliance.
3. Accurate Timestamps
With reliable military-grade GPS tracking technology resistant to disruptions faced by free apps, paid solutions provide precise automated time stamps down to the minute.
Precise timestamps are essential for payroll accuracy, making paid solutions an ideal choice for businesses that value precision in their timekeeping records.
Paid GPS tracking tools offer the feature of geofencing which allows businesses to create virtual perimeters around job sites that track clock-in/out and location data only when employees enter or leave the area, facilitating not only accuracy but also avoiding privacy issues at the same time.
5. Facial Recognition
Robust paid tools often incorporate advanced solutions like facial recognition for clock-in/out, preventing buddy punching that undermines payroll accuracy. Facial recognition ensures that the timekeeping systems reflect employee attendance accurately, enhancing payroll integrity.
For any business handling sensitive employee data, investing in a paid platform purpose-built for compliant, ethical tracking brings great peace of mind and avoids the steep risks of free apps.
Read Also: GPS Trackers for Cars
Respecting Employee Privacy – Best Practices
While GPS tracking offers operational efficiencies, it also risks violating employee privacy if implemented poorly. Some best practices include:
- Inform staff of GPS monitoring policies through an employee handbook or written notice. Gain their consent.
- Allow employees a chance to opt out of GPS data collection if they express concerns over privacy.
- Only collect necessary data, avoid tracking during non-work hours, and store data securely.
- Aggregate or anonymize GPS data to analyze workforce trends while masking individual worker habits.
- Consult qualified legal counsel to ensure tracking policies comply with state and federal laws.
By being transparent and prudent in data practices, employers can benefit from GPS tracking while respecting employee privacy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is GPS tracking legal?
In most cases, yes – employers have a right to track employees during working hours and on company devices. However, state laws vary in terms of permission and notification requirements. To stay on the safer side, we recommend you consult an employment lawyer to ensure compliance.
2. Can employees refuse to be tracked?
If GPS tracking was stated as a condition of employment, employees may have little recourse. However, if policies change after hiring, employees should be given an opportunity to opt-out or consent to new data practices. Firing an employee solely for refusing GPS tracking may be considered retaliation.
3. What alternatives exist?
Timesheet apps with geofencing allow for basic location tracking without precise GPS data for those sensitive to privacy concerns. More analog solutions like time clocks and manager oversight of attendance can also work.
- Free GPS tracking tools can open employers to risks around security, accuracy, and legal compliance. Paid solutions are worth the investment.
- While GPS tracking can optimize workforce management, balancing business needs with employee privacy is key.
- Ensure compliance and gain consent before implementing new data collection tools like GPS tracking.
Adopting GPS tracking for timekeeping can streamline payroll, billing, scheduling, and more. Taking measures to address privacy concerns creates goodwill and trust with staff. With the right platform and policies, employers can utilize GPS responsibly and effectively.