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How to Stay Compliant with the Stop Spying Bosses Act?

Learn what the Stop Spying Bosses Act brings, and how to comply.
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As an employer, you may greatly benefit from using surveillance technologies to keep track of your employees’ work, productivity, and mileage, especially if your workforce consists of field teams. 

That’s why you should be informed about the Stop Spying Bosses Act, a bill designed to protect and empower workers against invasive and exploitative surveillance practices.

It’s essential to understand that this Act won’t prevent you from overseeing your employees while they’re at work — its role is to regulate this area, which will ultimately spare you from legal issues and potential misunderstandings.  

Let’s dive in and discuss the Stop Spying Bosses Act, its implications, and ways it will transform the workplace surveillance landscape. 

What Is the Stop Spying Bosses Act of 2023? 

The Stop Spying Bosses Act is a bill that was introduced in the Senate on February 2, 2023, by Senators Bob Casey, Cory Booker, and Brian Schatz. Its purpose is to protect American workers from invasive and exploitative surveillance technologies. 

This was a necessary and timely response to the growing use of surveillance technologies in the workplace, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many companies to transition to remote work. 

According to the summary, this regulation would:

  • Require employers to inform their workers about workplace surveillance, including what data is collected, how it is used, and how such practices affect workers’ performance assessments.
  • Prohibit employers from using workplace surveillance for certain purposes, such as to monitor a worker’s activities related to union organizing, collect a worker’s health information that is unrelated to the worker’s job duties, monitor a worker who is off duty or in a sensitive area, or use an automated decision system to predict the behavior of a worker that is unrelated to the worker’s job.
  • Require employers to disclose to a worker any work-related decision that relies on workplace surveillance data and allow the worker to review the data.
  • Require employers to meet certain requirements before transferring surveillance data to a third party.
  • Establish the Privacy and Technology Division within the Department of Labor to implement and enforce the workforce surveillance requirements.

The bill sponsors argue that this regulation would level the playing field for employees by requiring disclosures in a timely, accessible, and public manner and establishing prohibitions for employers engaging in employee surveillance. 

What Are the Benefits of Surveillance Technologies? 

Employee time, attendance, and mileage tracking are essential practices for any business that wants to optimize its operations, comply with labor laws, and improve employee satisfaction.

Since 75% of U.S. businesses have experienced time theft, and expense reimbursement cases account for 21% of fraud, implementing a systemized monitoring process for your employees, whether they work on-site or remotely, is a must. 

Apart from this, surveillance technologies have other equally important benefits.

Staying Compliant with Labor Laws 

One of the main reasons to track employee time, attendance, and mileage is to ensure compliance with federal and state labor laws. 

These laws regulate various aspects of employment, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, travel time pay, mileage reimbursement, and recordkeeping requirements. 

By using a reliable tracking system, you can avoid costly penalties, lawsuits, and audits from labor agencies or employees who claim they were underpaid or overworked.

For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay their nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for hours over 40 in a workweek. The FLSA also stipulates that employers should keep accurate employee hour and wage records for at least three years

Similarly, some states have their own labor laws that may be stricter than the FLSA, such as California’s meal and rest break laws.

According to these laws, employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break every five hours and a 10-minute paid rest break every four hours worked. 

Another example is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage reimbursement rate, the standard amount employers can use to reimburse employees who use their personal vehicles for business purposes. The IRS mileage rate for 2023 is 65.5 cents per mile driven for business use. 

Neither the employer nor the employee has to pay taxes on the reimbursement if it matches the actual cost of driving for business reasons.

However, if the reimbursement exceeds the actual cost, it counts as income and is taxable. So, it’s essential to make sure you track employee mileage accurately if you want to avoid extra expenses.

Efficiency and Cost Reduction

Another benefit of this practice is that it can help you improve your business efficiency and reduce operational costs. Using a tracking tool, you can gain valuable insights into how your employees spend their time, how productive they are, how much they travel, and how much it costs.

For instance, you can use time and attendance data to analyze employee performance, identify areas of improvement, set realistic goals and expectations, reward high achievers, and address low performers.

Similarly, time and attendance data can help optimize your scheduling and staffing decisions, avoiding understaffing or overstaffing issues, reducing absenteeism and tardiness rates, preventing time theft and fraud (such as buddy punching or falsifying timesheets), and eliminating human error and manual processes.

Regarding mileage data, employee travel patterns, routes, distances, and durations can help you make educated business decisions and cut operational costs. You can also use mileage data to optimize your travel policies and budgets, reduce fuel consumption and vehicle wear-and-tear costs, claim tax deductions for business mileage expenses, and ensure employee safety and accountability. 

Timeero lets you see employees' routes during their working hours

Timeero even allows you to replay the routes your employees took while traveling for business purposes and check whether they performed personal chores while on company time. This way, you can rest assured you’ll pay only for business mileage driven and control your expenses. 

Employee Satisfaction

A final benefit of tracking employee time, attendance, and mileage is boosting employee satisfaction and retention rates. By using a tracking system, you can show your employees that you value their work, respect their rights, and care about their well-being.

For example, you can use time and attendance data to ensure that your employees are paid in full and on time, receive proper overtime compensation, have enough breaks and rest periods, and have a fair and transparent evaluation system.

This data will also allow you to offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or alternative schedules, improving employee work-life balance and morale. 

Likewise, you can use mileage data to reimburse your employees adequately and promptly for their business travel expenses, reducing their financial burden and increasing loyalty. You can also provide your employees with GPS tracking devices or software, which can improve their safety on the road and their communication and collaboration with you and their colleagues.

By tracking employee time, attendance, and mileage accurately and fairly, you can foster a positive work culture, enhance employee trust and engagement, avoid employee pushback, and reduce employee turnover. 

How Are Companies Spying on Employees? 

Employers increasingly implement exploitative and invasive surveillance technologies to monitor their workers’ activities, on and off duty. 

This is a violation of workers’ privacy and a threat to their safety and well-being. Surveillance can cause stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout among workers. It can also undermine their autonomy, creativity, and productivity. Moreover, it can interfere with their right to organize and bargain collectively for better working conditions. 

The new bill is supposed to end these detrimental practices and improve employers’ accountability and transparency.

Video surveillance

One of the most common ways employers spy on workers is through video surveillance. Many employees can spot security cameras used for surveillance around their offices.

While these are great for monitoring how often employees leave the premises and how long they take on their breaks, cameras are only permitted in certain areas. Some employers, however, go a step further and use webcam monitoring software that measures things like eye movements, facial expressions, and body language.

Using such bossware can be intrusive and stressful for employees who feel like they are constantly watched and scrutinized.

Computer monitoring 

Another way employers spy on employees is through computer monitoring. This form of spying is almost as common as using video surveillance cameras.

After all, many business owners are suspicious of their workers browsing the web or using social media during work hours. Employers can use software to track workers’ keystrokes, mouse movements, and the websites they visit. It’s also possible to take employee snapshots to check how attentive they are or capture passwords typed into websites and programs. 

Email and message monitoring

Spying on employees through email and message monitoring is also common. Most office workers are aware that their employer can gain access to the Slack messages, emails, and websites they visit on their company computers.

But some employers may go beyond that and monitor private messages on social media chat or other platforms. This can be perceived as an invasion of employees’ personal space and communication, especially if unrelated to work matters. Employees may feel like they have no freedom in their work environment.

Performance reviews

Performance reviews are another common method employers use to spy on their employees. They may take advantage of stored email, calls, messages, and other forms of communication, justifying such unethical actions because this data contains the information relevant to making employee performance assessments.

This can be unfair and biased, especially if the employer does not disclose how they evaluate their workers or use selective or out-of-context data. Employees may feel like they are being judged unfairly or harshly based on their online activities rather than their actual work output or quality.

Union busting

This is another unethical practice that the Stop Spying Bosses Act aims to prevent. Employers may use surveillance software to monitor the potential union organizing for collective bargaining efforts.

This infringes on employees’ rights to organize and advocate for better working conditions, making them feel like they are being oppressed or intimidated by their employer.

Encouraging employees to spy on their co-workers

Sometimes, employers may ask or encourage employees to spy on their co-workers for various reasons. For example, they may want to find out if someone is leaking confidential information, violating company policies, or engaging in misconduct.

Although all these scenarios are possible, we should answer the question: Is it illegal to spy on co-workers?

In a nutshell, yes, it is. There’s no big difference between spying on your employees and doing this by proxy.

First of all, asking an employee to spy on another employee may violate the privacy rights of the target employee, depending on the method and extent of the spying.

As mentioned, employers can’t record audio conversations without consent or monitor employees in private areas. If an employer instructs an employee to do so, they may be liable for invasion of privacy or wiretapping claims.

Secondly, asking an employee to spy on another employee may create a hostile work environment and damage the trust and morale among co-workers.

Employees who are spied on may feel betrayed, harassed, or discriminated against. Employees who are asked to spy may feel pressured, conflicted, or uncomfortable. This can lead to lower productivity, higher turnover, and increased legal risks.

How the Stop Spying Bosses Act Can Benefit Your Business?

You might be wondering how this bill can benefit your business. 

After all, we’ve already established that tracking your employees’ time, attendance, productivity, and performance is essential for your business’s success.

However, respecting your employees’ privacy and autonomy can actually improve your business outcomes.

Enhance Employee Productivity

Business productivity largely depends on how well you manage employee time and attendance. However, using invasive surveillance technologies to track every minute of your employees’ workday can negatively affect their productivity. 

For example, it can create a culture of distrust and fear, lower employee morale and engagement, increase stress and anxiety levels, reduce creativity and engagement, and lead to a higher turnover.

The bill can foster a culture of trust and respect between employers and workers by requiring transparency and disclosure of any surveillance practices. Employees who feel trusted and respected are more likely to be loyal, productive, and engaged in their work. They are also less likely to experience stress and burnout that can harm their well-being and performance.

It Can Reduce Legal Risks and Liabilities 

By establishing clear rules and prohibitions for employers who implement workplace surveillance, the bill can help them avoid potential lawsuits or complaints from workers who feel their privacy or rights have been violated. 

It clarifies what constitutes using workplace surveillance data for unlawful purposes, thus minimizing the risk of making a costly mistake. 

Improve Employee Management

Employee management is another crucial factor for your business’s success. However, using invasive surveillance technologies to collect employee behavior and performance data can be misleading and inaccurate. 

For example, it can ignore contextual factors, generate partial or incomplete data, violate ethical standards, expose legal risks and damage your reputation.

Instead of all that, you can inform your employees of the purpose and scope of any surveillance technology you use and explain how it affects their performance assessments. It’s also a good idea to involve them in decision-making and let them provide feedback or appeal any decisions based on surveillance data. 

How Can Timeero Help You Stay Compliant with the Stop Spying Bossess Act?

Timeero is designed to ensure transparency and minimize employee privacy concerns brought on by the Stop Spying Bossss Act.  

So, although Timeero comes with tools for GPS, time, and mileage tracking, as well as automatic geofencing, each can be limited to on-duty use only — in other words, your employees won’t be under any surveillance when they clock out! 

timeero mobile app
Timeero tracks time, location and mileage only while employees are on the clock.

 

It’s important to state that Timeero stops capturing and saving any locations when the employee clocks out. This way, their privacy is safeguarded while you’re protected from any privacy and legal issues that may ensue. 

The same applies to breaks — when an employee clocks into a break, the app immediately stops tracking their location. 

Similarly, when it comes to mileage tracking, it starts when the employee clocks in and stops the moment they clock out. The app records only business miles, which means that when the employee drives their car for personal purposes, tracking is disabled. 

timeero mobile timesheet
Employees have access to all data captured.

Stop Spying Bosses Act requires that employees are informed about the data collected and how it impacts their assessments. Timeero gives employees insight into their timesheets, thus conforming with the Act’s requirement to inform workers about what data is collected and how it impacts their performance assessments.  

In addition to using Timeero, you should keep your employees in the loop and ensure they’re familiar with your monitoring policies. 

Stop Spying Bosses Act: Wrapping It Up

The Stop Spying Bosses Act is a landmark bill that aims to protect employees from invasive and exploitative surveillance technologies that employers increasingly use to monitor and control their activities, on and off duty.

However, if your workplace surveillance practices comply with it, this bill can be a win-win for you and your employees.

The Stop Spying Bosses Act can help create a more fair, respectful, and productive workplace for everyone. Employers who support the bill can show their commitment to their workers’ well-being and dignity and gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent.

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