Does anyone have any experience of their employer introducing the fitting of tracking systems to the company fleet?
My understanding is that this may necessitate amendments to employment contracts (according to a provider's website) and employee consultation is recommended prior to the installation.
If neither of things things have happened, where would someone stand if they refused to have the kit fitted/use the vehicle until proper procedure had been followed?
No, it's not me, in case you're wondering and although I usually belong to the school of 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' in these 'Big Brother' issues, that's no excuse for taking your employees for granted. The Information Commissioner publishes a guide covering Monitoring at Work in relation to Data Protection & Human Rights, and the employer in question doesn't appear to have read it...
A company I was a transport manager for had all the vans and trucks fitted - but all the sales cars were also fitted with trackers - the only cars that were not were managers cars, I asked to have one put in my car as it was often used during the day by others. For us, the commercial vehicles could be tracked 24/7, and we could request a log for any time within the previous 12 months. But for the cars they were only tracked during working hours 9-5.30, no data was kept for times outside this and for weekends, this was for some legal reason, but I cant remember exactly what!!!
Logically you'd expect that the company has the legal right to know the whereabouts of its property, even if an employee happens to be driving it at the time.
However, the company should draw up a code of conduct explaining what it proposes to do with the information, and who it will release it to etc. A suspicious wife could ring and demand to know where hubby's truck was parked up for the night, for example. All company drivers should be given a copy, and asked to sign that they understand and agree to it.
"If neither of things things have happened, where would someone stand if they refused to have the kit fitted/use the vehicle until proper procedure had been followed?"
Please forgive the long post, it's all relevent.
I used to be involved in Industrial Relations, so although I am not qualified in this area, my best take on it is this.
I suspect if the company simply went ahead and fitted them to vehicles without proper consultation then any subsequent dismissal could be weak in the eyes of an Industrial Tribunal (Unfair Dismissal) or a County Court (Wrongful Dismissal).
A Tribunal has to find two things to conclude that a dismissal, or any other action is fair.
The employer must have acted for good reason.
The employer must have acted reasonably.
The code of conduct you mention I suspect, will have no legal status in its own right as it's not a statutary/mandatory document, however it may carry the same weight in a court as evidence that a company has gone about doing things in the right way if they have adhered to it. Otherwise the applicant (dismissed employee) could offer this as evidence that the company has not gone to reasonable lengths to protect the rights of the employee. If the Tibunal or Court are swayed by this then I would expect they would find that the emplyee has been reasonabe in his or her refusal to drive the vehicle, and hence a subsequent dismissal/disciplinary action would be unfair.
In addition, I believe there has been recent leglislation, either drafted or introduced to protect the privacy of employees concerning outside communication with friends and family. Hence, snooping on private phone calls and e mails etc is seen as a no no. However monitoring use of facilities to prevent abuse of company property is acceptable.
What I have written above is subject to correction by any legally qualified BR member. PU, DavidHM or The Lawman will no doubt read this. Should they disagree with anything I have said then please bear their comments in mind over mine.
However, as far as this employer is concerned. I would advise the following steps to be taken, dependent on the dynamics of the company concerned.
1) Ask to see the company's grievence proceedure. If they don't have one or it is sketchy then they are fools IMO.
1) Request an informal meeting with the management to discuss concerns. The more people who are prepared to get involved the better. If the employee is a member of a Trade Union, then the TU should be informed. If the TU is recognised within the company then the TU Representative should at least be involved from the start. A good TU will have support from the Regional Officer, who gan give advice and guidance to the workplace rep.
If an agreement is reached at this stage GET IT IN WRITING as a lever to consider the matter settled.
2) If this is unproductive then you may like to either escalete the problem to a more senior manager or invoke the grievence procedure. If the company has no grievence procedure or refuses to cooperate, then their chances of successfully defending a future Industrial Tribunal case will be harmed. If the company has no proceedure then they may well want to agree to discuss the matter in a structured way. IMO that would be fine.
3) The employee should escalate the issue via the grievence procedure if you can, until a satisfactory conclusion has been reached. If the company refuses to cooperate then either the TU, or an outside agent (employment law expert,CAB etc) may need to be involved.
Let us know how it progresses Rebecca and if I you need any further advice let me know.
I think it must be quite common nowadays. When I had a conservatory fitted a year ago the bricklayer and his labourer were sitting in my garage as it went dark early having a cup of tea.
Asked why not go home and they told me about the tracker in their Transit van which told their employer which was quite a small firm where they were.
They didnt know about it until at the time they had gone home early to watch a European cup match or similar and the boss asked them next day about it.
The lads had no problem about having the tracker as they said we are paid until 5.0pm so its no difference to clocking in or out.
One of my lads is a HGV driver and tells me its quite common with their vehicles and it obviously makes sense that a 100 grand vehicle and load should be traceable quickly after theft.
Personally I wouldnt have no problem with this. After all its the employees property and should be allowed to do as he chooses.
On a similar basis workers using works computers for private use.....If I was the boss I wouldnt be happy.
If my employer fitted one of these to my vehicle and assured me that there were specific reasons as to why it was being fitted, and I was satisfied that such reasons were for legitimate protection of company property and time, then I wouldhave no issue.
The scenario that Rebecca gives above is that the compnay concerned has decided to fit them without consulting its employees. This is bad HR practise at best. At worst it could be an underhand way to gather evidence against employees to effect cheap manpower reduction programmes that may be needed in the future.
A number of years ago I had dealings with a well known DIY chain. The manager of one store told me that he and most of his contemporaries were watching their backs, as a few surprise dismissals had taken place - at a time the last major recession in the 90s was taking hold. He was of the view that any slip up at his and his peers' level that would have normally not drawn the attention of the head office was attracting unusual levels of scrutiny.
So, if I was working for a company, and they started taking steps to know where my vehicle was at any time, without explaining the reasons why - yes I'd have a few questions myself.
This has been common is the US for some time now. I think many trucks and company cars are fitted with company tracking devices. I went to a conference in 2001 and was suprised at the number of installed systems in the US even at that time.
I read recently of a company in the US which is actually requiring its employees to be fitted the tracking chips!! Amazing but true. They are very small and are inserted just under the skin. I think it was an IT company in Utah, or somewhere in the Mid-West.
"You are being watched, already"
"There have been several threads in which backromers have discussed their understandable fears of the proposed EU vehicle-tracking system, which raises obvious Big Brother concerns.
What I hadn't twigged was that this is happening already. I have just heard ....
Since I run my own car, funded by an allowance from my employer and the savings I make on BIK taxation, I assume they can't do anything, even if they wanted to?
In any case, if I were to take a company car it would be purely a 'perk' car, so can't see what case my employer could make for wanting to know where it is, even during working hours. I often swap cars with my partner, so that'd confuse them anyway!!
This is HGV teritory, therefore not very relevant to many, but a few years ago I had to deal with a complaint about a commercial vehicle parked up in a residential area. Turned out it was carrying bromine, off its "permitted" route, for lunch purposes. Mama's food better than sandwiches etc. As for repmobiles in cars provided, on a frolic, out of hours, they are possibly not insured. If I were an employer I'd expect to cover my back somehow.
As I mentioned, it's not so much the use of tracking systems that I'm questioning, more the way in which they are introduced.
My advice has been for the person concerned to call the office tomorrow, acknowledge receipt of the memo about taking the vehicle in for the tracking system to be fitted, and mention that having read their website, it seems that they will have issued amendments to the employment contract, but that theirs hasn't turned up yet.
www.accountancyage.com/features/1127296 .... far from breeching driver privacy, vehicle tracking technology will have an essential role to play in enabling companies to meet their statutory duty-of-care requirements for employees. ....
I work for a well known formula one racing team.All our fleet vehicles are fitted with tracking systems.There was no consultation.As the vehicles are company property, I would imagine that they can do with them what ever they wish to.