How can we help?

Talk to sales: 0808 304 6205

9.00am - 5.30pm Monday - Thursday

9.00am - 4.30pm Friday

Get product support

Contact support   Visit support page

How UK employees react to GPS tracking in the workplace

New survey data reveals how and when employers track their employees
Woman using a laptop to track on a map

Workplace GPS tracking: reality versus perception

QuickBooks Time surveyed 500 UK employees to uncover how they truly feel about GPS tracking at work, and there were plenty of surprises in store.* The survey found that 1 in 3 respondents has used GPS at work, which is similar to workplace GPS usage in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

But one of the most interesting and noticeable findings from our survey is the difference between the actual versus perceived value of workplace monitoring.

Survey illustration workplace gps tracing

Top concerns about GPS in the workplace

Regardless of the respondents’ experience with GPS tracking, the technology was considered an invasion of privacy by most. But those who had not used GPS before showed much greater concerns across the board. Despite the concerns about personal privacy, two-thirds of the employees surveyed said they do not mind sharing their location with their employers.

survey illustration used GPS
Survey illustration didn't use GPS

Would employees quit their jobs due to GPS monitoring?

GPS tracking provokes a stronger reaction among respondents who have not used it for work. One in 10 said they might threaten to quit or quit their job if GPS tracking was introduced in the workplace.

Survey illustration would employees quit GPS usage

How employees were tracked

Mobile apps and in-vehicle devices were identified as the two primary tracking methods. A significant number of the employees using these devices said they could not disable the GPS tracking system when finished work.

Survey illustration GPS control

When employees were tracked

Most employees were only tracked by GPS during work hours but as many as 1 in 5 said they were being tracked 24 hours a day, which is a potential breach of the Data Protection Act.

Survey illustration when tracked with GPS

Is GPS tracking legal in the UK?

Whilst British employment law doesn’t mention GPS tracking specifically, it does pay close attention to the way personal data is handled through the Data Protection Act 1988 (DPA) — especially if that data can be used to identify someone or if it intrudes on their private life.

Are employers breaking the law? The Data Protection Act requires employers to justify their use of workplace monitoring before they introduce it, and to consider other, less intrusive methods before they do. The law is complex and there is no substitute for good legal advice, but Employment Practices Code is a good source of information.

How were employees informed of GPS usage?

The ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ should be part and parcel of the most basic workplace monitoring, but our survey shows it may not be the norm. Consent was only requested from 10% of those tracked at work, with a meagre 6% aware that they could withdraw their consent once it's given.

Survey illustration when informed of GPS usage

What do UK surveillance laws really say?

To paraphrase Part 3 of the code under ‘Monitoring at Work’, surveillance must be justified in one or more of the following:

  • The benefits should outweigh adverse impact.
  • Emphasis must be placed on being fair to individual workers.
  • Intrusion should be no more than necessary.
  • Surveillance cannot be used to manage employees or measure their performance.
  • Employers must consult with trade union representatives or the workers themselves.
Survey illustration when informed of GPS usage
In summary

Employers can only use GPS tracking to improve business operations, without interfering with the individual’s fundamental right to privacy when they are on and off the clock. But when we asked British employees why their employer used GPS tracking, only 57% of them identified positive intentions like improving safety and efficiency.

Other potential breaches of UK law

Our survey data also shows that some employers may be flouting the law by using GPS tracking to measure their performance or even to check where they went on their breaks.

Is invasion of privacy or covert monitoring ever justified?

The quick answer is 'yes' — but rarely. The DPA is clear in that employers are almost never privy to their employees’ private lives or where they go during breaks. This would only be allowed in extreme instances where there are grounds to suspect criminal activity or serious malpractice which can endanger company assets and/or other people.

What are the benefits of GPS?

The majority of employees said GPS made them feel safer at work and that the technology helped to improve efficiency and accountability in the workplace.

Meanwhile, employees who travel for work felt that GPS was useful for tracking mileage and travel time more accurately, ensuring they were duly compensated and reimbursed. However, opinions were split on whether GPS tracking helped build trust.

Survey illustration benefits of GPS

Why do we enable location services?

Trust and need are the major deciding factors when we decide whether to use location services on our apps.

When do you turn on location services?

Survey illustration when turned location on
Survey iillustration didnt enable location

Do we feel the same about GPS in personal apps?

The survey respondents appear much more comfortable with using GPS technology in personal apps than workplace apps. As many as three-quarters said they use GPS when driving, for example, and more than two-thirds said they enable it on weather apps.

Survey illustration personal apps

QuickBooks Time timesheets and GPS in one, free for 30 days.

* Methodology: In August 2017, QuickBooks Time commissioned Pollfish to survey 500 UK employees about GPS tracking and workplace monitoring. QuickBooks Time designed and paid for the survey, but the respondents were not connected to QuickBooks Time 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]