In recent years, and especially in recent times when remote work has become more common, the practice of employers using technological tools to supervise their employees and the quality of their work is increasingly widespread. In most cases, such monitoring systems are used for employees, with regard to which, due to the nature of their duties, such as drivers, couriers and sales agents it is difficult to monitor their working hours and location. This type of tracking can be done through dedicated apps that employees are asked to install on their private cellphone or on the device provided by the workplace or by means of systems that collect location data in a vehicle.
The Israeli Privacy Protection Authority (“PPA”) published an opinion regarding the collection of employee location data by employers on 31.08.2021.
In the opinion, the PPA emphasized that collecting and processing a person’s location data is a significant violation of privacy, even when done during work hours, and employers who wish to collect employee location data should do so only after a thorough examination of the benefits that will arise from such collection versus the cost of violation of the employee’s right to privacy.
In the opinion published by the Authority, it emphasizes that:
Employers that wish to use a system to collect and process employee location data are required to comply with the provisions of the Privacy Protection Law, and amongst others-
(1) to comply with the proportionality requirement, balancing the benefits that will arise from this, and the damage and violation of the worker’s right to privacy during work;
(2) in the absence of an alternative, which can collect data, without the collection of location data; and
(3) for a legitimate and essential purpose for the workplace.
The employer should consider whether the type of work and the nature of the employee’s role are such that the tracking of location data is justified. In general, the PPA clarifies that it will be difficult to justify continuous collection of location data, for employees whose main place of work is an office.
The PPA also emphasizes that even in cases where there is a legitimate and essential purpose for the workplace, which meets the requirements, the employer must meet the following conditions, amongst others: the information may only be used for the initial purpose for which it was collected, the employer must be transparent to employees and bring such collection of information to their attention in detail, explicit, specific and separate consent of the employee is required for the issue of location data collection, it is necessary to avoid collecting location data of an employee outside of actual working hours, the employer must meet the security requirements of the information collected in the framework of using the system in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Protection Regulations (Information Security).
One must take such conditions into serious consideration and weigh whether monitoring and collecting such information is actually necessary.