As a responsible employer the Council seeks to use the most up-to-date technology to deliver high quality services to customers whilst supporting and protecting employees in respect of their health and safety. More employees are working ‘smarter’ through the application of flexible working options and many Services are adopting a mobile approach to service delivery with employees visiting sites or clients using handheld devices to complete their work, without having to return to the office. The Council is committed to making best use of resources and improving the customer and staff experience.
The ongoing development of technology means that it is possible to identify the location of a vehicle, device and in turn an individual through the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in real-time or retrospectively. GPS units may be fitted to vehicles and devices such as radios and mobile devices (eg, handhelds, telephones, tablets).
Various Services in the Council use locating systems and it is anticipated that more Services in the Council may introduce other similar technology in the future or ‘switch on’ this capability in existing electronic devices.
This page sets out the reasons the Council uses locating systems and when and how the data from those systems will or could be used. It aims to make this a transparent process in order to maintain trust and protect the interests of employees and the Council in the course of delivering services.
This policy applies to all employees and workers of the Council (including Agency Workers).
2. Core principles
- The primary uses of any locating system used by the Council are for employee health and safety, to manage service performance and in connection with any complaints received.
- Locating systems will not be used for monitoring the general whereabouts of employees aside for operational purposes as outlined in this policy. Before checking the location of an employee(s), the Manager must have due cause within the reasons identified in this policy.
- Where a performance or conduct issue arises with an employee (i.e. not minor), a 3rd Tier Officer or above may give authority to access a locating system and use specific GPS data in respect of the particular issue.
- Services must ensure that all relevant employees are informed about the scope and usage of any locating systems.
- In the event of any major functional changes to an existing system or plans to use a new locating system, the trades unions and relevant employees will be consulted prior to it being introduced.
- The Council undertakes at all times to adhere to the principles of good information handling within the Data Protection Act 2018, and the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998.
3. Policy Provisions
Where a locating system is in operation, or is to be introduced, there is a requirement on Services to ensure that all relevant employees are informed about the scope and usage of the system(s). This includes whether key fobs or tachographs (these provide links between GPS data and the personal information of an employee) are included in the equipment or vehicle the employee may use. Employees shall be informed of the existence of this policy and its provisions in respect of how it applies to their role and of how to access it.
New employees will be informed of the above as part of the induction process.
What will the Information be used for?
The primary uses of information recorded by any form of locating system is in relation to the health and safety (eg Lone Workers or Out of Hours Workers) to help ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees, in relation to managing service performance (eg monitoring utilisation and efficiency or measuring compliance with legislation requirements) and in connection with any complaints from the public.
In addition, there may be occasions where the Council requires to access specific information concerning the performance and/or conduct of an employee where a management concern has arisen. Although this is not one of the main uses of the information recorded by a locating system it may be used for such a purpose. Where a specific check(s) is to be carried out, employees shall be directly informed of this unless to do so would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
The table below shows the purpose of the information recorded by a locating system and what this information will/could be used for.
Access to the Information
Locating systems will differ across Services and as a result each Service will have different access requirements and information and reporting needs. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each Service to have local data management arrangements in place, including details of authorised users of the system in the particular Service. Some Services will access data on a ‘real time’ basis for health and safety purposes or in order to ensure that resources are effectively deployed on a daily basis. In addition, retrospective information may be used for monitoring and analytical purposes over a longer time period.
Where information is extracted from a system for the purpose of improving service delivery, it will be anonymised to ensure that there is no link to an employee in relation to specific records.
Where an issue or concern within the principles and provisions of this policy is raised and the system has the recorded data that relates to the issue or concern, access to the data will be via a written request (on the proforma detailed at Appendix 1) from the Officer seeking to access the data. This request must be submitted for authorisation by a 3rd Tier Officer or Head of Service or Director giving an explanation of the reasons the data is required which must be consistent with the principles and provisions of this policy. This authority will only be given in relation to information that pertains to the area of concern and the information request must be in relation to a date(s) and/or time(s) (or an approximate timeframe) and within the principles and provisions of this policy.
By an Investigating Officer
In the event of information being required from any locating system as part of an investigation concerning the performance or conduct of an employee, the Investigating Officer must have written authority from a 3rd Tier Officer or Head of Service or Director to access the requested information. This authority will only be given in relation to information that pertains to the investigation and the information request must be in relation to a date(s) and/or time(s) (or an approximate timeframe) and within the principles and provisions of this policy.
Each Service will retain records of the date upon which information was provided from a locating system in relation to an employee’s performance or conduct and details of the person who accessed the system.
Subject Access Requests for Information
In accordance with the Corporate Data Protection Policy (Accessed via Internal Network Only) and the Data Protection Act 2018, an employee can make a subject access request for the personal data which the Council holds about them.
Information obtained through any locating system, in relation to an employee, will not generally be released to a third-party (this includes other employees, any freedom of information requests or requests from other public authorities), without the prior knowledge and consent of the employee concerned, except where such release is permitted or required by law.
Storage of Data and Records
In the event that information is extracted from a system and produced in an alternative format (e.g. paper, digital file) the records will be stored securely and will only be accessible to those with authority to access the data, in the particular Service.
Retention of Data and Records
Information obtained by any locating systems may be held on a readily accessible format for as long as is required (but will be reviewed after 6 months). Unless there is a legal or regulatory obligation, information is not normally retained for more than 6 months. Arrangements will be Service specific depending on local data requirements and how the locating system itself stores records.
Any records pertaining to an investigation will be stored in accordance with normal practices and the principles of the Data Protection Act 2018.
In the event that a record is, or seems likely to be, required in connection with court or legal proceedings, then approval should be sought from the Council’s Data Controller to retain the records for an extended period of time as appropriate.
All records will be disposed of in accordance with the Council’s Corporate Data Protection Policy and Procedure. Following an investigation, when the matter is concluded, all associated data will be destroyed and the employee concerned notified accordingly.
4. Review of the Policy
People and Organisation will review this policy every 3 years. However, it will be subject to continual review and amendment in light of experience of its operation. Changes will be made following the normal consultation arrangements with recognised trades unions.
5. Locating Systems FAQs
Q1. What is a locating system?
Locating systems use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and can be fitted to vehicles or devices such as handhelds, telephones or tablets. GPS makes it possible to identify the location of a vehicle, device and in turn an individual.
Q2. Why does the Council use locating systems?
The Council uses Locating Systems for the following reasons:
• Health and Safety – eg lone working or locating a vehicle/employee where they have become uncontactable.
• Managing Service Performance – monitor utilisation information and efficiency or measuring legislative compliance.
• Resolving Complaints – review factual information relating to a complaint from a service user/member of the public.
Q3. What else can the information recorded be used for?
In addition to what is detailed in Q2 above, the Council may also use the information for:
• Occasions when the Council requires to access information concerning a performance or conduct issue of an employee (not minor) as part of an investigation.
• As a tax requirement to demonstrate vehicles have not been used for personal purposes.
Q4. How do I know if the vehicle or device I use has a Locating System?
Where a Locating System is in operation, your line manager/service manager will ensure that you are informed of this and the scope and usage of the system(s)
(including any major functional changes to the system).
If you are a new employee, you will be informed as part of the induction process. If the locating system includes key fobs or tachographs, you will be made aware of
this. Key fobs and tachographs provide links between GPS data and the personal information of an employee.
Q5. Who can access the information?
As locating systems differ, each Service will have different access requirements and reporting needs. Each Service will have local data management arrangements in
place, including authorised users of the system. You can ask your line manager about this for your Service.
If information is required as part of an investigation concerning the performance or conduct of an employee, the Investigating Officer must have written authority from a
3rd Tier Officer or Head of Service or Director in order to access the information. Where an issue or concern within the provisions of the policy is raised and a locating
system has the recorded data that relates to the issue or concern, a proforma must be completed by the relevant Officer requesting to access data and the reasons why. This requires to be authorised by a 3rd Tier Officer or Head of Service or Director.
Q6. What if I have a concern about the way a locating system is being used?
Normally raise this with your line manager in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response, then you can raise a complaint through the grievance
Relevant Documents and Links
- Request to Access Recorded Data from Locating System or Device
- Summary Change Locating Vehicles
- Locating Systems FAQs
- Corporate Data Protection Policy (Accessed via the Internal Network Only)
- Data Protection Action 2018
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