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December 1, 2015

Vehicle GPS tracking, is it legal?

Fleet management has been a fairly unaltered industry for a while now, however this has all started to change with the developments in technology, around the types of vehicles available (hybrid, electric etc) and, more specifically, technology around systems, hardware and the software used in the monitoring of fleet vehicles.

From locations, driving behaviours, FBT management and even the ability to shut down vehicles remotely, ‘in vehicle management systems’ (IMVS) are revolutionising the way fleets are run.

It’s undeniable that these systems afford fleets greater workplace safety and operational efficiencies, they allow drivers to be located in the case of an emergency, can monitor compliance of the relevant legislation, as well as ensuring drivers take regular stops on long trips, to reduce driver-fatigue related incidences.

However, the biggest concern that drivers and employers share alike, is whether the ability for employers to track vehicle and driver behaviours is legal, or is it an invasion of privacy?

In July 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) confirmed in a decision that “driver monitoring systems can lawfully be installed” (oll North Pty Ltd & Anor v Transport Workers’ Union of Australia [2014] FWC 2945). The Transport Workers Union (TWA) opposed the installation of out-ward and driver facing cameras in trucks operated by the major logistics firm TOLL, on the basis this amounted to an invasion of privacy. Whilst the FWC acknowledged the issues on both sides including the privacy concerns, but ultimately concluded the workplace safety needs override the privacy concerns.

The Surveillance Devices Act 1999, is primarily aimed at controlling surveillance and illegal recording of private conversations or activities, however it specifically allows properly approved “covert” (secret) surveillance by the authorities e.g. police and federal agencies. Therefore, it is imperative for any workplace looking to implement GPS systems that they ensure all employees affected are aware of the systems and what information is and is not being collected.

Implementation Tips for Vehicle Tracking:

1. Document clear objectives e.g. workplace safety, not surveillance or recording of private travel

2. Document perceived risks including business, safety and privacy, and detail how concerns will be dealt with

3. Conduct consultation with all affected workers, and keep records in case challenged at a later date. Have employees sign their acknowledgement of the program

4. Provide training on implementation and operation of vehicle tracking system, as well as detail what information is being reported, and how it is used in the business

5. Display signage to ensure the monitoring is made known to all vehicle users i.e. not covert.

In addition to the above mentioned laws, each state in Australia will also have a Work Place Surveillance Act, and you should familiarise yourself with the implications of the one for your state before undertaking an IVMS policy.

As always, be open and transparent with drivers to ensure that the implications and benefits are understood and enjoyed by both parties.

And if in doubt, speak to our people at StreetFleet. 

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