GPS Tracking

What Happens If an Employee Turns Off Location Tracking On Their Device?

Samson Kiarie
Last update on:
May 24, 2024 12:37 PM
Published on:

Using GPS apps for time, location, and mileage tracking can be problematic for employers when field employees turn off location tracking. GPS tracking apps rely on the GPS functionality of the device on which they are installed. So, when an employee disables location services, the GPS tracking app can’t accurately record mileage or location data. 

Unfortunately, employers can’t control what workers do on their devices. To prevent employees from manipulating the system, you must create a strict tracking policy and use an app like Timeero to enforce it. Timeero has devised a solution to discourage employees from turning off their GPS or force-closing the app. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss what happens when an employee turns off location service when clocked in with Timeero. But before we get to that, let's discuss how various Timeero features use iOS and Android location services. 

Learn how Timeero can streamline time, location, and mileage tracking for your company. 

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How Timeero Uses Phone GPS and Location Services

 timeero mobile app
You don't have to invest in expensive tracking devices. Timeero’s mobile app works seamlessly on Android phones, iPhones, and iPads. 

Timeero requires Android and Apple device location to be set to “on” to capture accurate data. Let’s discuss some of Timeero’s features that depend on the phone’s location services: 

  • Location tracking: Timeero uses the phone's global positioning system (GPS) to track the precise location of employees in real-time. This helps ensure that field employees are where they need to be and working on the assigned tasks. 
  • Mileage tracking: For Timeero to record accurate and IRS-compliant mileage logs, the phone's GPS must be on. The IRS requires employers to track the starting and ending locations of each business trip. When employees turn off their phone’s location services, tracking where they began or ended their journey becomes practically impossible.  
  • Geofencing: Geofencing is a unique feature that prevents employees from clocking in or out outside of the designated job sites. For geofencing to work, Timeero must determine an employee’s precise location, which is only possible when the phone’s GPS is enabled. 
  • Segmented tracking: Segmented tracking allows companies to track employees on multi-stop trips. Business owners can track when a sales rep or delivery driver arrives at and leaves a specific address. However, the employee must turn on their phone’s location services for segmented tracking to pick up location addresses.
  • Route map: The route map helps employers determine an employee's route while on the clock. The feature offers other capabilities, such as breadcrumbs, which help you determine an employee's location and driving speed at any point during the day. The route map uses phone GPS to imprint the breadcrumbs on the worker’s route. 

By default, Timeero  won’t let an employee clock in or out if their phone’s GPS is off. If an employee attempts to clock in or out when the location services are off, they will see the error message, “Your location settings are off. Your location is required to start or stop the timer.

timeero error message
Timeero will not let employees clock in or out when their location services are off. 

What Happens If an Employee Turns Off Location Services While They’re Clocked In?

When an employee turns off location services while clocked in, Timeero clocks them out immediately. The app also notifies the manager and flags the employee’s timesheet. 

This feature is available for companies enrolled in the  Premium plan that have auto clock-out enabled in their settings.

Let’s take a look at how Timeero’s capabilities benefit business owners:

Clocks An Employee Out Automatically

The option to clock out employees when they turn off their GPS isn’t enabled by default. You have to manually turn it on, which is incredibly easy. Note that only admins and managers can turn this option on or off. 

Follow the steps below to enable automatic clock-out when employee GPS is deactivated:

  1. On the Timeero web dashboard, click the company settings button at the top right of your window. 
  2. Open the “general” tab and toggle the “clock out users when they turn off their GPS” button.
  3. Click save to apply the changes. 

clock employees out automatically
Timeero clocks an employee out for disabling location services on their cell phone. 

With this setting configured, Timeero will automatically clock out users when they turn off their GPS. Whether employees turn location services off accidentally or intentionally, Timeero clocks them out regardless of the motive.

This feature prevents unverified time entries, as GPS is essential for confirming employee work location. This measure helps ensure accountability and accurate timekeeping. As a result, you will only be charged for the time an employee was actually working. 

Automatic clock-out in this situation also prevents employees from recording mileage logs that don’t meet IRS requirements. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every mileage log Timeero records can be used for employee compensation and tax write-off claims.

Notifies The Employee and The Manager Immediately

Timeero also warns the employee about their location access activity. The employee will receive the notification: “You have been clocked out. Your company settings require location tracking to be turned on while on the clock. Please turn on the proper location access.” 

notification for an employee disabling gps
Timeero notifies employees when it clocks them out for turning off location services. 

This notification allows employees to rectify their errors to continue tracking time, location, and mileage. 

Timeero also emails the managers to bring the case to their attention. The manager can open the timesheet to see where the employee turned off their GPS. They can tell whether employees were at the designated job site when they turn GPS off and gather enough information before questioning them.

Flags The Suspicious Timesheet

If the manager misses the email notification, they will still have another opportunity to catch employees who had turned off GPS. When Timeero clocks out employees for turning off their location services, it adds a flag icon to the timesheet. 

Just bear in mind that Timeero flags employees’ timesheets for other reasons, such as clocking in/out outside the designated job area. Hover the cursor over the flag icon to understand why a timesheet was flagged. Timesheets flagged for turning off location services have the message “automatically clocked out for turning off GPS.”  

timeero flagged timesheet
Timeero flags an employee timesheet when they are clocked out for turning off location services. 

What Happens If an Employee Force Closes the Timeero App While They’re Clocked In?

When an employee force closes the app when clocked in, Timeero automatically clocks them out. Timeero also notifies the manager, warns the employee, and flags the suspicious timesheet. The auto-clock out option is available on the Premium plan and isn’t activated by default. Follow this guide to activate it:

  1. Open “company settings” on Timeero’s web dashboard and select “general” settings options.
  2. Toggle the “clock out users when app is force closed.”
  3. Click “save” to apply the changes.

force closing the timeero app
Timeero clocks employees for force-closing the GPS tracking app. 

Timeero Tracker Checklist

When checking for discrepancies and examining whether employees are prioritizing tracking accuracy, Timeero’s tracker checklist can be an invaluable tool. 

Timeero’s tracker checklist is a list of features employees must turn on to enhance time, location and mileage tracking accuracy. It includes: 

  • Phone GPS
  • Background location access
  • Location accuracy
  • Wi-Fi
  • Physical activity tracking
  • Turn-off battery optimization

The tracker checklist should be at 100% to track time and mileage accurately. Managers and administrators can view tracker checklist percentages for clocked-in employees on the “tracker checklist” page under “company settings.” If an employee percentage is below 100%, you can determine which feature they haven’t turned on and advise them accordingly. 

Additionally, a complete tracker checklist helps deter time theft, as some employees who intentionally turn off location services or force-quit the app may be attempting to misrepresent their work hours.

timeero tracker checklist
Managers can see employees tracker checklist percentages on the web dashboard. 

Does Timeero Clock Out Employees Who Turn Off Location or Force Close the App on Offline Mode?

Yes, Timeero clocks out employees who turn location services off or force-close the app when their device isn’t connected to the internet. Timeero is one of the best (if not the best) offline GPS location, time, and mileage trackers. 

GPS Tracking Compliance

Tracking employees on personal or company-owned devices is legal as long as it complies with relevant federal, state, and local laws. Federal laws permit GPS tracking only if it's done with employee consent and for legitimate business reasons. 

Many states in the U.S. have laws that safeguard employees from intrusive monitoring and tracking. The limitations mainly relate to employee consent, where the tracking happens, and whether the monitoring occurs during or outside of working hours. 

If you require employees to install GPS tracking apps on their devices, you must develop an effective bring your own device (BYOD) and tracking policy. These policies should adhere to underlying federal and state laws. 

If you’re wondering how to apply tracking laws in your state, read our employee GPS tracking guide to learn more. We also have a guide on employee GPS tracking best practices and how to avoid employee pushback when implementing a tracking policy. 

Use Timeero To Prevent Employees From Disabling GPS

To reiterate, you can’t control what your employees do on their smartphones. You can’t stop them from force-closing the app or turning off location services. However, by implementing a suitable GPS tracking policy and taking advantage of Timeero’s counter-measures, you can dissuade employees from engaging in these practices. 

Employee Turning Off Location Tracking: FAQs 

Do You Get Notified When an Employee Stops Sharing Location?

Yes, Timeero notifies you instantly when an employee turns off location services. 

Can You Tell When an Employee Switches Their Location Off?

Yes, Timeero notifies you when an employee turns their location off and flags their timesheet. This makes it possible to determine when an employee switched their location off.

Do you want to see Timeero in action?

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Samson Kiarie

Samson is a mathematician turned content marketer specializing in SaaS and Tech content. He focuses on the practical aspects of software systems while keeping abreast of the industry’s cutting-edge principles to create informative and engaging content. When he’s not writing, Samson spends time playing or watching soccer.

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