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Is my employer allowed to monitor my vehicle?
Technology increasingly allows for workplace monitoring to be extended to vehicles used by workers off-site, such as company cars or delivery vehicles. Devices can record or transmit the location of the vehicle, the distance it has covered, or information about the user's driving habits.
Monitoring vehicle movements where the vehicle is allocated to a specific driver and information about the performance of the vehicle can be linked to them is allowed but regulated by the Data Protection Act:
- Where private use of the vehicle is allowed, monitoring movements when used privately is rarely justifiable.
- If in-vehicle monitoring is used where you work, your employer needs to evaluate whether the benefits justify the adverse impact, and adapt the monitoring accordingly. For example, if the vehicle is used for both private and business use, one way to balance the benefits and impact would be a 'privacy button' to enable the monitoring to be disabled.
- In some circumstances though, employers are actually under a legal obligation to monitor use of vehicles, even when used privately, e.g. where a tachograph is fitted to a lorry. In this case, the legal obligation takes precedence, and there is no question of providing workers with a means of turning off the monitoring.
- Workers using monitored vehicles must be made aware of the monitoring policy.
This is a key area where some recognised unions have been able to negotiate significant improvements, for example an agreement that material obtained through monitoring will not be used to judge the performance of drivers, or to discipline them, except in exceptional circumstances.