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Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free GPS Employee Tracking App?

Samson Max
Last update on:
December 27, 2022 7:41 AM
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The promise of a free GPS employee tracking app can be alluring, particularly for cash-strapped small businesses and those that are getting started. When you implement a free GPS tracker, you expect to keep track of employees' hours, do payroll math much more efficiently, and eliminate overpayments, all without spending a dime. 

However, behind the zero-price facade lies a huge caveat. More often than not, free apps lack the features you need to automate employee tracking and enforce the Fair Labour Standard Act (FLSA) compliance. Some are malware-laden, whereas others come with broken cryptography, opening a backdoor for hackers to intrude on your systems. 

If you’re using a free employee GPS tracker or are considering implementing one, keep reading to learn why you should abandon that idea. We’ll show you how a free app increases the risk of company data loss and inflates your wage bill through time theft. 

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Is there a free GPS tracking app?

The short answer is yes. There is a swath of GPS employee tracking apps that you can use without paying any subscription. However, some of these apps use the “free” price tag as a smokescreen to cover their unethical activities. 

Think of it this way: The GPS tracking app vendor has to generate income to cater to operational costs and turn in a profit. If they’re not charging you (and other users), that begs the question: how do they generate income? 

If a GPS app is marketed as free, they could be using your company data to make money. Some gather personal data and sell it to third-party advertisers. According to research by Incogni, 55.2% of apps on the Google Play store share user data with third parties. The number could be higher with free apps. 

That’s not all. Some free GPS trackers will work with third-party advertisers to display ads on your apps. Besides eroding user bandwidth, in-app ads cause unnecessary interruptions, hindering employees from tracking hours accurately. Learn the problems with free apps in our comprehensive free vs paid apps guide

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free GPS Tracker

If data security and privacy risks haven’t convinced you to turn your back on a free GPS employee tracking app, the following reasons will. Here are the top four reasons why you shouldn’t use a free employee GPS tracker:

1. Bugs and Glitches Hinder Accurate Time Tracking 

According to the FLSA, it’s your duty as an employer to keep accurate records of employee hours. Put simply, you have to record clock-in and out times, hours worked, overtime, breaks, time off, and other employee-related data accurately.

 

While a free GPS tracker may help you reach that goal, some are hurriedly put together and aren’t updated regularly. As a result, they are prone to glitches and bugs, which can prevent you from tracking employee hours accurately. 

Imagine this scenario: an employee arrives at work and the app freezes due to a bug. In that case, the employee will have to get on with their job and enter the clock-in times manually once the bug is fixed. 

That leaves room for dishonest employees to fudge their clock-in and out times. Consequently, it will be challenging to calculate employee minimum wage and overtime come the end of the pay period. You’ll have to estimate employee hours, which often leads to overpayment or underpayment.

Underpaying employees leads to lawsuits and can bruise employee morale, causing a dip in productivity levels. On the other hand, overpaying employees can be costly. 

Unfair compensation isn’t the only risk. If the bugs and glitches are frequent, they leave you at a massive risk of violating the FLSA regulations. You’ll repeatedly breach FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements, and if the authorities knock on your door, you’ll be subject to a penalty of up to $1000 for each violation

2. Risk of Hacking and Loss of Company Data

IBM conducted a data breach study in 2022 and found that 83% of organizations have had at least one data breach. If your company has had no data breach in the past, using a free GPS employee tracking app leaves you exposed. This is because, according to IBM research, vulnerabilities in third-party software were the cause of 13% of data breaches.

 cause of data breach
Vulnerability in free GPS tracking apps is one of the leading causes of data breaches

As we mentioned, some of these free apps are thrown together quickly. Some use weak encryption algorithms to transmit user data, while others feature broken cryptography. Using them makes it easier for hackers to intercept and decrypt your company traffic to steal passwords and other login credentials. 

In a worst-case scenario, hackers could use a free app to find a way into your systems and steal sensitive company data. The average cost of a data breach caused by a vulnerability in third-party software is $4.55 million. Not to mention that data breaches put your reputation on the line, and in some cases, companies are forced to close down

Let's use our maths skills. 

Premium software such as Timeero costs $4 per user per month. Assuming your small business has 50 employees, the cost comes to $2,400 annually. For that price, you get a GPS tracker with robust encryption and zero probability for code-related security issues. That’s a fraction of the cost you’d have to incur in case of a data breach.

3. Legal Consequences of Exposing Employee Data

If hackers gain access to your company's system and steal employees' personal information, you could face harsh legal consequences. This happened to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) when hackers stole employee data and used it to file false tax returns

More than 60,000 employees filed a joint lawsuit against UPMC, seeking compensation for the damages. Initially, the Pennysylvania state court threw out the case because state laws don’t recognize employees’ negligence claims. However, the Supreme Court reinstated the lawsuit, and the law that favored the employee took precedence.  

While a free app didn’t cause the UPMC data breach, it’s the epitome of what could happen if your company is hacked through a free GPS tracking app. Remember: GPS software can potentially expose location data, which could give hackers another vector to exploit employees. 

The UPMC case should convince you not to cut corners with employee tracking, or you’ll get your company in trouble. Besides the legal fee, this will put your company's reputation on the line and could scare away business partners and potential investors. Not to mention that you’ll pay heft fines and compensation fees if employees win the case.

4. Missing Key Features

Some top-tier software vendors offer free plans, essentially letting you use their employee GPS tracking app for free. Since these free apps stand on the shoulder of secure and private systems, they keep your company data safe.

Even so, the free GPS employee tracking apps have a shortcoming; they’re a trimmed-down version of the premium apps. In other words, they come with limited features and functionalities and might not meet your unique business needs. Some of the features you might miss include (but are not limited to):

  • Facial Recognition

Some don’t offer facial recognition capability, exposing you to buddy punching. Without facial recognition, employees who are running late only need to ping their buddies. “Hey, I’m running late; please clock in for me.” Sadly, more often than not, such requests often end with “Sure!”

An employee who arrived at 8.07 will claim they arrived at 8.00. Employee fudging their numbers by 5 to 10 minutes might not look like a big deal at first. However, if everyone or a larger part of your workforce is engaging in the act, you’ll be paying for hours of work not done.

  • Offline Mode

Offline mode is an indispensable feature for remote field workers. It enables employees to enter their clock-in and out times, break and time-off, even when there’s no internet connection. On-the-go field workers will have to enter time manually without this feature, which might encourage time theft.  

  • Third-Party Integration

Some free versions help you track employee time but offer no way to import that data to your accounting or payroll system. As such, you’ll have to do manual entries, which leaves room for duplicate entries and errors. These errors could spill over to your payroll, making you overpay or underpay employees. 

timeero integrations
Timeero integrates with your payroll system to eliminate manual entries and costly errors.

How Much Does Employee Time Tracking Software Cost?

You’re probably considering getting a paid GPS employee tracking app. The first thing you want to know is how much a paid employee time tracking app costs. The short answer is it depends on the size of your workforce. 

Most employee tracking apps will charge you per user, which is nice because that lets you pay for only the seats you use. As a result, the amount you pay for employee tracking software depends on the size of your workforce.

Does Timeero Tick The Right Boxes?

Timeero is built with small businesses in mind. Whether your business is hard up for cash or getting started with GPS time tracking and need software that will be easy on your pockets, Timeero is right up your alley. Here’s how Timeero can help:

Record Employee's Hours Accurately 

A free GPS employee tracking app doesn’t provide various functions to enforce FLSA rules. If you need a GPS time tracker combining automatic geofencing, facial recognition, overtime payment settings, break time settings, and other features to accurately track employee time, look no further than Timeero. 

Automatic geofencing tracking means employees can clock in or out only when they are within the specified zone. Plus, facial recognition flags potential buddy punchers and notifies you of the faces that don’t match. 

timeero break time setting 
Timeero enables you to set break time rules to match those stipulated in your state.

You can set how long workers spend during tea and lunch breaks and stipulate whether those breaks will be paid, or not. 

For example, if you’re in California, you need to give non-exempt employees an 8-hour shift with two paid 10-minute breaks and one unpaid 30-minute break. When the set duration elapses, Timeero ends the break and sends a notification to prompt the employee to get back to work — no more slacking. 

Timeero makes it a cinch to enforce break rules, ensuring you stay compliant with DCAA, DOL, and FLSA requirements. If an employee forgets to clock in or out, Timeero notifies them to do so to enhance the accuracy of employee hours further.  

Timeero also lets you enforce overtime rules in your state. The app automatically calculates each employee's overtime pay based on the number of hours worked and other set parameters to enumerate each employee fairly and avoid costly fines.

timeero overtime settings
Timeero enables you to set overtime regulations to compute employee pay accurately

Enhance Security and Privacy

Another concern with a free GPS employee tracking app is security and privacy. Timeero complies with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, which means we’ve put an adequate level of protection to safeguard your company data. Please read the privacy policy to learn about our process regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information. 

Beyond that, we designed the Timeero time and location tracking app with employee privacy in mind. The app runs when the employee is working. When they clock out, the app automatically ceases to gather any information, so you can rest assured it won’t invade employee privacy. 

The time is Ripe to Switch to a Paid Employee Tracking App

The security flaws and vulnerabilities of a free GPS employee tracking app can plunge your company into serious trouble. They can drag your company to lengthy lawsuits that often involve hefty fines and legal fees. In the worst-case scenario, legal battles and compensation can leave your business cash-strapped and on the brink of collapse. 

Don’t walk your business down that dangerous route. Instead, get a reliable GPS employee time tracker such as Timeero to sidestep all these problems. Timeero helps you accurately track employee hours for fair compensation. It also enables you to collect, store and process information securely. 

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AUTHOR
Samson Max

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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