Is My Boss Allowed to Monitor Me with a GPS Device?

GPS devices in the company car are practical. However, the boss can also use them to check who is where and when. Is that allowed?

I was employed by a company as a blind fitter. For my work, I drove a company vehicle from my employer that was equipped with GPS. I was also allowed to use the vehicle privately – as stipulated in a contract. I could not switch the GPS device in the company car on and off myself.

I recently stopped working for this company. Now my former employer has taken me to court. He compared my time sheets with the data of the GPS device in the company car and wants to have found out that I have recorded the working time "systematically too high". This resulted in "well over 100 hours too many".

I ask myself: Was the employer even allowed to use a GPS device to monitor how many hours I was on the road with the car?

Franziska F.


Company vehicles may be equipped with GPS devices. This makes it theoretically possible for an employer to surveil its employees when they use the company car. If company vehicles are also used privately, the employer could also monitor its employees during their free time.

Surveillance of Behavior Is not Allowed

According to the Ordinance to the Labor Law, monitoring and control systems intended to surveil the behavior of employees at the workplace may not be used. However, monitoring or control systems may be required for other reasons. In that case, they must be used in such a way that they do not impair the health and freedom of movement of the employees.

The Federal Supreme Court has confirmed that pure behavioral monitoring of employees is inadmissible – unless it is justified by operational reasons. The Federal Supreme Court points out that the Data Protection Act must also be complied with. In addition, employees must be informed transparently that they are being monitored by GPS.

Control of Working Time Is Justified

Was Franziska's employer allowed to use the GPS system to monitor her working hours? As a rule, this is permissible for this purpose. Also if it is to prevent abuse. However, the system may only be used retrospectively and sporadically. Total monitoring in real time is not legal.

Does Franziska have to grudgingly accept her employer's accounting?

Invasion into Privacy

In her case, another point is decisive: the GPS system was always active as soon as she drove the company car. Even when she was traveling privately. She could not switch it off. However, GPS tracking outside of working hours is a serious intrusion into the privacy of an employee. It is spying on private life.

Such monitoring is generally not justified by overriding employer interests. Because no precautions had been taken to prevent the collection of data in the private sphere, the use of the GPS system in Franziska's case was unlawful. This was confirmed by the Zurich Labor Court in a similar case.

Play It Safe

As you can see, sometimes nuances decide whether the employer or the employee is right. Play it safe if you find yourself in a similar situation. Get advice from the reliable legal service of Employees Switzerland. So that you find your way – even without a GPS system.


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