How to deal with employees wanting to record meetings
We get asked a lot, how to deal with employees wanting to record meetings. Examples are, disciplinary or grievance hearings or performance reviews with a line manager. There can be any number of reasons why employees want to record meetings. They may feel they are being treated unfairly or need to extract some evidence, but employees do not have the legal right to record an internal meeting. Therefore, if an employee asks to record a meeting, as the employer, you must decide whether or not to permit the request.
If your policy is that recordings are not permitted, the person chairing the meeting should remind the employee of this at the beginning of the meeting. The chairperson should also make it clear that if the employee ignores policy, recording the meeting is in breach of company policy and there would be grounds for taking disciplinary action. However, they do have a right to a copy of the notes taken at a formal meeting.
If an employee refuses to confirm that they are not recording the meeting – or confirms that they are recording the meeting – you may want to adjourn the meeting to decide how it should be conducted. You may be concerned that it will be difficult to run an effective meeting if participants know that it is being recorded. It is possible that participants will feel uncomfortable and be reluctant to contribute fully to the meeting, if they know that their comments may be used against them later.
You may be reluctant to allow recordings. However, rather than automatically refusing all requests, it is advisable for the Chair to ask for the employee’s reasons for wishing to record. In such circumstances, you would need to consider if allowing the employee to record the meeting would be appropriate.
You should also be aware of the potential for employees to record meetings without your knowledge and should consider how to address this risk.
If your Company policy is not to allow recording of meetings, it should clearly document this in the staff handbook and/or Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
How to deal with employees wanting to record meetings covertly?
An employee may decide to make a covert recording of a meeting instead of seeking permission to make a recording, or after such a request has been turned down. The prevalence of smartphones and other portable recording devices means that this has become easier for employees to do.
The potential for covert recordings should be a reminder to you to ensure you and your managers follow good practice in every meeting, in particular avoiding “letting off steam” or making inappropriate comments if the employee leaves the meeting for an adjournment.
You may feel like you want to take disciplinary action against an employee who has made a covert recording, but first you must establish the facts of the case. Conduct a proper investigation and decide whether or not it is appropriate to commence the disciplinary procedure.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.