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Canadian Workers and GPS workplace monitoring

How Canadian employees feel about GPS tracking in the workplace

New survey data reveals how and when employers track their employees

Perception of GPS tracking is negative for people who haven’t used it and positive for those who have.

Workplace GPS tracking: reality versus perception

TSheets surveyed 500 Canadian employees to uncover how they truly feel about workplace tracking and monitoring.* Almost 2 out of 5 Canadian workers have used GPS for work. In the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, it's closer to 1 in 3.

The common thread in the data from all four countries is the perceived versus actual value of workplace monitoring, regardless of where the surveys are done. To people who have never used GPS tracking before, the mere mention of workplace monitoring is generally ill-received, while the experience for those who have is much better.

Top Concerns About GPS

Our data shows GPS tracking provokes a more pronounced reaction among those who have not used it at work. The majority of employees who have used GPS tracking at work do not share the same concerns. Almost two-thirds of them don’t mind sharing their location with their employers.

Top concerns of those who hadn’t used GPS. Top concerns of those who had used GPS.
Percentage of workers who quit their job because of GPS tracking.

Would employees quit their jobs due to GPS monitoring?

GPS tracking continues to provoke a stronger reaction among respondents who have not used it for work. More than 1 in 10 said they might threaten to quit or quit their job if GPS tracking was introduced into the workplace. Among GPS tracking users, the proportion is much lower.

How were employees
tracked on the job?

Mobile apps and in-vehicle devices were identified as the two primary tracking methods. As many as 1 in 4 of the respondents said they could not switch the GPS tracking device off.

Chart of how employees were tracked while on the job.
Chart of when employees were tracked via GPS by their employer.
What does the law say about GPS tracking in Canada?

What does the law say about workplace GPS tracking?

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is Canada's private sector privacy law. Implemented in 2001, it is applicable to federally regulated organizations, outlining the conditions in which workplace tracking and monitoring are legally permissible.

What is GPS "best practice"?

According to PIPEDA, prior to implementing GPS tracking in the workplace, employers must:

  • Have a clear, accessible policy that outlines their justification for using GPS tracking.
  • Obtain "express consent" in writing from their employees.
  • Ensure employees understand what is being tracked and why.
  • Ensure that tracking stops after working hours.

How were employees
informed about GPS?

As evidenced in our survey data from the UK, the US and Australia, some employers are not fulfilling the minimum by informing and educating employees about GPS tracking.

Chart of how employees were notified about GPS tracking at work.

What is consent?

PIPEDA states "express consent" is required whenever "sensitive" personal information is being collected. And GPS data certainly qualifies. Consent can be collected by signing a form or given verbally over the telephone. A checkbox can also be used in a form to indicate consent. It is also important to note "an individual may withdraw consent at any time."

85% of Canadian workers did not give content to GPS tracking.
A chart describing the reasons GPS tracking was introduced to the workplace.

How was GPS used in the workplace?

Historically, Canadian courts have not been favourable towards employers who use surveillance without good reason, though legal experts differ on what constitutes legitimate uses of GPS tracking at the workplace. Some argue it can only be used to help with productivity, improvement and safety and not to manage individual employees.

Data from our survey suggests employees could have been subjected to illegal tracking without even realizing it. Employers are almost never privy to the employee's private life or their whereabouts when they're on breaks and off the clock.

What are the benefits
of GPS tracking?

There were generally positive takeaways about how GPS tracking can help improve administrative and operational efficiencies.

A chart of the benefits of GPS tracking in the workplace.

How many of us use
GPS outside of work?

When asked if and when they would willingly turn on location services on their smart devices, the respondents gravitated towards similar preferences. Most are happy to use GPS tracking outside of work.

Chart of reasons surveyed workers use GPS tracking apps outside of work (have used GPS tracking at work).
Chart of reasons surveyed workers use GPS tracking apps outside of work.
A chart showing which apps people use with location services turned on.

In the end, it's really about how employees feel

As found in similar surveys conducted in the UK, US and Australia, people only like to use GPS tracking when they trust the app and see the need.

Mobile phone with GPS tracking turned on.

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*Methodology:

In August 2017, TSheets commissioned Pollfish to survey 500 Canadian employees about GPS tracking and workplace monitoring. TSheets designed and paid for the survey, but the respondents were not connected to TSheets and all responses were anonymous. The respondents were all over the age of 18 and "employed for wages." For more information and media inquiries, please contact media [at] tsheets.com.