Debunking the Myth of Workplace Surveillance

GPS Tracking: Balancing Independence & Compliance

Dottie Chong, TSheets 

In the world of franchising, operations can be nationwide or worldwide. Australia has been reigning supreme as the country with the most franchise systems per capita in the world. Almost 90% of the most successful chains are local brands, and in many cases, a franchisee owns multiple franchises.  

Most franchisors require franchisees to use franchise software and preferred third-party suppliers to ensure brand consistency and standardise best practices. But employees are the business’ most valuable asset and its most manageable expense. With many franchisors turning to cloud-based time tracking for accurate reporting, GPS tracking is a natural addition.  

If your business is considering the move to cloud-based, GPS time tracking, find out what employees really think about it.  

Employees hate GPS tracking, right? Well, not quite. 

In a recent survey of 500 Australian employees, TSheets uncovered how employees really feel about employers tracking them during work hours, either through their mobile phone or company vehicle. Respondents included those who have used GPS at work and those who have not. The results were anything but expected.  

More than half of employees who have used GPS indicated a positive experience, with only 9% on the other end of the spectrum. Almost 50% of those who have not used GPS at work had a far more negative view about the possible impact of being tracked while at work, suggesting their overall perception doesn’t meet reality. 

Employees say GPS tracking doesn’t invade privacy or breach trust 

Sure, privacy and trust were listed as areas of concern for those who have and have not used GPS tracking in the workplace. But the greater concerns for those who have used GPS were actually data and battery drain caused by a tracking app.  

Even more interesting? Both groups ranked ‘location disclosure’ at the bottom of their list, with only 4% of respondents actually resigning due to the implementation of GPS tracking at work.  

Despite the negative aspect of GPS tracking, employees also realised its perks. Employees who have used GPS liked how the technology helped them to track travel time and promote accountability. GPS tracking also served as an added safety feature in case of emergencies. But opinions were split as to whether it forges trust or increases productivity.  

Poor surveillance practices tarnish franchise reputations 

No two fates are more intertwined than that of a franchisor and franchisee. When one goes rogue, all are affected. Workplace surveillance legislation in Australia is inconsistent across jurisdictions, but this has not stopped the Fair Work Ombudsman from exposing unlawful behaviours plaguing some of the biggest franchises, where the main culprits are wage fraud and inaccurate record-keeping.  

  1. George Calombaris Restaurants 

It was reported that nearly 200 staff at George Calombaris’ restaurants have been underpaid a total of  $2.6 million due to ‘historically poor processes’ for the past six years. 

  1. Domino’s Pizza  

The nation’s biggest pizza chain was found to be paying employees only half the required award rate, despite announcing 57% increase in profits. 

  1. 7-Eleven 

The convenient-store chain has repaid $26 million in back pay to 680 workers due to ‘systematic wage fraud’ and exploitation of migrant workers.  

  1. Pizza Hut  

Due to misclassification of delivery drivers, Pizza Hut owed over $12,000 in underpayments for not paying proper minimum hourly rate or missed-out allowances. 

Communicate and consult to ensure compliance with surveillance laws 

TSheets’ survey also found that two-thirds of respondents were not given any notice before GPS tracking was introduced and 39% were never given any notice in writing. Both are, of course, serious Fair Work compliance breaches. With patchy GPS tracking laws in Australia, it’s best to refer to existing regulations and seek professional assistance prior to execution.  

  • Due Notice - In NSW and ACT, this means at least 14 days’ notice must be given in advance of surveillance implementation. If you’re not sure, always check with Australian Law Reform Commission or Fair Work Ombudsman. 

  • Context  - The Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 and the Workplace Privacy Act 2011 encourage consulting with employees in good faith before surveillance is introduced and explaining how workplace monitoring can promote transparency, compliance and safety.  

In the franchising world, technology has been offering digital solutions from scalability to mobility, point-of-sale systems and time-saving apps. With proper execution and purpose, GPS tracking can help promote accountability and compliance. With proper communication and context, GPS tracking can help to protect your business, your employees and your brand. 

About the Author - Prior to becoming a global copy writer for TSheets, PC Magazine’s 2017 Top Time Tracking Software and Editor’s Choice, Dottie Chong spent 15 years in marketing communications and content management focussed on driving engagement and brand affinity.