Covert Recordings, Are They Admissible?

2 December 2015

Traditional dictaphones have long been used by employees to covertly record meetings with their employer. However, while most people don’t own a Dictaphone, the increasing number of smart phones and tablets means that devices with this capacity are now within the hands of the vast majority of the working population.

So… if you are recorded, can this be used against you? Unfortunately, the answer will probably be “yes”. Whilst there are no specific tribunal rules about the admissibility of covertly obtained evidence such as this, tribunals do have a large degree of discretion as to what they can accept. They will weigh up each case on its merits and, case law shows, will tend to decide that the evidence should be admissible, especially when there is difficulty in establishing the facts of the matter.

On a practical note, there are steps you can take. You can include within your policies a prohibition of recording disciplinary meetings and can specify that failure to comply will constitute a disciplinary offence. You may also ask at the onset of any such meeting that any electronic devices are turned off. Taking these actions should deter staff who may be tempted to record proceedings.

However, if you are reading this and panicking, then fear not! As long as you follow sound procedures, and act in accordance with the Acas Code, then you should have nothing to worry about. At Alpha, we are specialists at providing expert advice on how to conduct meetings with employees. If you would like to have Alpha on your side, please feel free to contact us.


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