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Got it on tape? Covert recordings of employment meetings admissible in tribunal.

Employers will need to be more alert to the risk of staff recording grievance & disciplinary meetings following clarification by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a recent case.

InPunjab National Bank -v- Gosain the employee secretly recorded the employer’s HR people discussing her grievance after she had left the meeting room. Previous cases had indicated that the recording of those discussions which took place in the absence of the employee should not be admissible.

However, in Gosain, the bank’s MD allegedly gave an instruction to dismiss the employee, and the manager hearing the grievance confirmed that the key issues of the grievance would be skipped over. The EAT supported the Tribunal’s finding that all of the recordings would be heard in evidence.

Many employers will prohibit staff from recording disciplinary and grievance hearings – but this won’t protect them from staff who may take this step regardless.

Searching staff for recording devices before a meeting would potentially give rise to damage to the implied term of mutual trust and confidence.

Banning laptop computers or smartphones (which could record meetings) might disadvantage employees who need to refer to documents or make notes in the course of a meeting.

Managers should ensure that these meetings are conducted calmly carefully and thoughtfully, in accordance with best practice, and particularly that they consider and discuss what to do in a separate meeting room away from the employee.

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