When an employee wants to record a meeting, I admit, I immediately think the worst. I assume we have a serious breakdown in trust. I question why, I question what they will do with the recording and basically negative thoughts flood my mind. It doesn’t actually have to be that way though. Let’s explore this.
Culture of Recording Meetings
Firstly, some organisations are more open and basically “set-up” to record meetings. They operate in environments where they want (or hope) for free or frank conversation. They don’t want a meeting held-up as someone furiously writes notes in the corner. Recording the meeting allows information to be shared with others not present. It can allow participants to reflect on what was said. Recording a meeting is simply second nature to some organisations.
The increase of zoom meetings and other technology also means this trend is increasing. So, when an employee asks if they can record a meeting it could be a reflection of the culture they are used to working in. Clarify why, ask what they will do with it. It could be they quickly realise there is little point to it.
Recording an Important Employee / Employer Meeting
Okay…I mean this is where my catastrophizing mindset took me! I can see a scenario whereby we have a disciplinary meeting and the employee wants to record it. It is not going to be an easy meeting.
I think the first thing an employer should do is take control of the situation. You either consent that the meeting is recorded, you decline the request or you offer to record it and share the recording and a transcript afterwards. There is no law regarding recording a meeting. Commonsense dictates that it should only happen if all parties agree to it.
If the meeting is recorded then it is only right that certain rules are agreed. All parties receive a copy of the recording. It will not be posted on the internet, social media or broadcast in anyway. It will be kept for personal use only.
Having a meeting recorded should not impact what is said. If an employee is being disciplined for repeated lateness or absenteeism…you discipline them for repeated lateness and absenteeism – end of!
How Did It Reach This Stage?
If your employee wants to record a one-off meeting. It suggests an element of trying to control proceedings. Or, and more likely (in my opinion) the psychological contract between employee and employer is badly damaged. They don’t trust you will treat them fairly.
If as the employer you can see this being the case you can probably take steps to reassure the employee; especially if this meeting is not going to be ‘fatal.’ Explain the meeting is going to be two way and they do have a voice.
One further thought for you…if the employee has requested they record the meeting, well, that feels better than them covertly recording the meeting.
So far, we have only examined what it means when a request comes in to record a meeting. What about the scenario of a meeting being secretly recorded?
Broadly speaking if an employee covertly records a conversation at work they are likely to be breaking company policy and are guilty of misconduct. I would also throw-in that this behaviour will destroy working relationships with colleagues.
If an employment tribunal is presented with a covert recording it is likely to be considered inadmissible as evidence. There have been exceptions to this rule…but broadly speaking a covert recording is considered ‘distasteful’. Either party can take legal action if they feel they are the victim of a covert recording. So, simply put, don’t do it is my thinking.
No one should be recording a meeting at work unless all parties have freely consented to do so. Some organisations are very open about wanting to record meetings and there are certainly upsides to doing this. However, when it comes those difficult employee/employer meetings, if an employee wants to record the meeting I think you need to look at a bigger picture.
Whether you consent to recording the meeting is your call. But, why does the employee want to try and wrestle control, why do they not trust what is going to be said? Address the recording issue and then start to address the bigger picture is my thinking.
About The Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency with offices in Aldershot and Brighton that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.