How to deal with privacy concerns

Employees often have privacy concerns when they are presented with the possibility that their employer may implement fleet management software. Tracking the behaviour of drivers is the underlying reason for most privacy concerns and it can create considerable challenges for your company's plans.

In many situations, privacy concerns from employees can result in fleet management software not being implemented. In fact, employee resistance is one of the main reasons companies decide not to implement telematics software.

These privacy concerns should not, however, stop you from implementing fleet management software. Instead, you should first understand why your employees have privacy concerns. Then you need to get the balance right when implementing the new system. This means creating robust policies and involving your drivers in the process.

Driver Privacy Concerns

Many of the concerns that drivers have regarding fleet management software are legitimate. For example, where a driver chooses to go on his/her lunch break is not something the company has any right to know. The same applies when an employee has a vehicle they can drive for personal use outside of company time. That employee's expectation of absolute privacy during personal time is completely reasonable.

This is even more complicated when the employee owns the car through a novated or similar arrangement.

In addition, privacy concerns are often more pronounced in larger organisations where there may be a larger group of people who have access to the employee's data.

Unions have also expressed concerns that sometimes even make it to court or tribunal. In one case, the Transport Workers' Union of Australia tried to stop the logistics company TOLL from installing driver-facing and road-facing cameras in its trucks. The Fair Work Commission found in favour of the company confirming they could install the cameras although it also said the implementation of such systems should be accompanied by employee training and the drafting of usage guidelines.

While the union lost this particular case, the concerns expressed by unions and employees should be taken into account.

Best Practices When Implementing Fleet Management Software

Before You Start

You must first understand why you should implement a fleet management system and you must define your objectives. That objective should not be to track your fleet as this will bring minimal benefits to your business. Instead, you should, for example, implement fleet management software because you want to reduce costs, such as reducing idle time, administration, and/or vehicle maintenance costs.

You might also implement fleet management software so you can improve the service you give to customers. An example of this is improving delivery times and/or having the ability to communicate more clearly to customers about when they can expect their delivery. Another common objective for implementing fleet management software is to reduce risk by protecting employees and company assets. After all, between 2003 and 2015, 65 percent of worker fatalities in Australia occurred in incidents involving vehicles. Highlighting the need to take driver safety seriously.

Before you implement any system, you must also consider your state's privacy laws which can vary considerably depending on your state.

Communication is Crucial

To get driver buy-in, transparency is crucial so you should be upfront with drivers about why the company is implementing the fleet management system. You should also have open conversations with drivers about their privacy concerns.

  • Some of the reasons for implementation you should take the time to explain include:
  • Protecting the fleet, i.e. it is important the company takes steps to protect significant assets
  • Protecting employees by, for example, helping to reduce incidents caused by driver fatigue or by helping to locate drivers during emergency situations
  • Protecting the public
  • Delivering a better service to customers
  • Helping the company meet its regulatory obligations

You should also stress in your conversations with employees that the system will not be used to encroach on the employee's non-business activities. Instead, the implementation of fleet management software is about reducing risks as well as reducing costs in the business. This will make the business more efficient and productive which will ultimately make it more competitive and profitable.

It is also important to highlight the benefits to the driver. This includes improved safety, less time spent in traffic, improved time management, and more accurate reporting of working hours.

Also, explain how the company intends to use the software and explain the company's position on driver privacy issues. Also, explain how the company adheres to privacy laws in both practice and spirit. One effective way to do this is by creating a policy and procedures document.

Privacy Policy and Procedures Document

As part of your implementation of fleet management software, you should create a policy with procedures document that covers privacy issues and outlines how employees are to treat the software and the data it generates. This includes:

  • Password security procedures
  • Access control policies to limit who has access to employee behaviour data
  • Policies regarding the time of day and day of the week that vehicles will be tracked
  • Speed policies
  • Safety policies including driving style, use of mobile phones, drinking and substance abuse policies, adhering to road laws, etc
  • Idle time policies
  • Vehicle maintenance policies

Training and Other Issues

You should also conduct comprehensive training so drivers know how to properly use the system and so they have a full understanding of the data it generates.

Finally, make sure you deliver on your promises regarding privacy. When you take the steps above, including ensuring you fulfil your obligations, you will find it easier to get employee buy-in.

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