Updated 2015.

There could be various reasons you, or your Employer, may wish to audio-record important work meetings/hearings, including the hope that this will support your/their position should a claim (for unfair dismissal, or discrimination, for example) be made to employment tribunal in the future.

However neither an employee, nor an employer, has the right to record a meeting – unless both parties agree to the recording. It is unlikely that many employers would agree to this (as it is unlikely that most Employers disciplinary procedures or grievance procedures would expressly allow this).

Recording meetings can make all of those taking part feel uncomfortable, and may affect the way the meeting runs – it is much more preferable to have a neutral person present to take notes, which are shared with all participants afterwards.

And obviously the employee has the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by a work colleague or trade union representative – and either the employee or person accompanying them can take notes also.

The note-takers are important in case the technology to audio-record the meeting fails and there is then no documentation to prove what or what was not said.

What happens if an employee and employer do not agree the written minutes/notes of a disciplinary or grievance hearing?  An employer should provide a copy of the minutes/notes taken at the meeting to the employee.  If the employee does not agree that the notes are accurate, the employer should ask him/her to give a corrected version.  If the employer agrees that the employee’s version is accurate, the amendments can be agreed as the record.  If the employer does not agree that the employee’s version is accurate, it should keep both versions on record. (Then both versions of the notes can be referred to at any later date, including at tribunal).

Employers who wish to record hearings need to consider:

  • Their obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998, and there would be few exceptions under the DPA when this would be possible.  For example – the Employment Practices Data Protection Code (guidance from the DPA) says that employers may record their employees in secret only in very exceptional circumstances, such as where it is suspected that criminal activity has taken place.
  • If a covert recording may breach the employees’ right to private and family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • If an employer records a meeting with the employee’s consent, the information should be treated as ‘personal data’ under the DPA and must be ‘processed’ in accordance with the DPA principles, as it would treat an employees personal/personnel file.

Employees who wish to record meetings:

  • Should ask for their employer’s permission to do this.
  • If an employer’s disciplinary procedure specifically bans covert audio-recordings, and/or an employer has told the employee that recording the meeting is not an option (ideally in writing) and an employee continues to do this, then an employer can discipline the employee for this as well, and also bring the situation to an Employment Tribunal‘s attention (although the Tribunal may not prevent this evidence being used at a hearing).
  • Employees who record meetings covertly also need to consider the DPA if sensitive information about other people was discussed at the meeting.
  • If an employee covertly records a meeting, an employment tribunal may allow this to be used as evidence in certain situations and circumstances (although generally will not allow the private deliberations of the disciplinary panel, when they are attempting to reach a decision on the hearing).

If an employee has a physical or mental impairment that makes taking their own notes difficult or impossible then allowing them to take an audio recording of the meeting may be an option, if there is no other reasonable alternative.

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem, then talk to us at The HR Kiosk  – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.

 Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

Photo by Bill Selak

  • http://courtreportinglife.typepad.com/ Carmen Santiago

    Why aren’t impartial freelance verbatim court reporters used for this? It’s the ideal scenario and everyone will feel as though their views are being heard and documented.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Carmen, I would imagine there would be financial and confidentiality issues here. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • http://courtreportinglife.typepad.com/ Carmen Santiago

        Hi, Lesley. I’m not that kind of reporter. We document confidential live proceedings in real time. We are impartial. So the record is never manipulated. It is verbatim, literal, word for word, and kept private. We deal with sensitive material at every job and simply make a record of it. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks for your response.

  • David

    Lesley, is it usual or acceptable for an employer to give employees a “disciplinary hearing” and routinely threaten dismissal when they return from sick leave with a doctors certificate ?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi David, I think I’ve just replied to your e-mail about this – but basically yes an Employer can discipline an employee for being on sick leave if they feel it is unacceptable in any way. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • bev

    Can someone record a conversation and use it against you in a displinary without u even have the slightest clue that this is happening.

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi, no this shouldn’t happen. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • bev

    I have been suspended for fail to follow manager order and the first interview did not mention what was the order and when did I get them. It total base on what an agency member said. But what you think if you using contract cleaner and these staff work on your site for more than almost two years permanent, the contractor is not using one member of the team would it be appropriate for them to let the business no that the member of staff is no longer working with them.

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Bev, sorry I’m not clear what you’re asking here, can you explain? Thanks, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

      • bev

        Can the same person suspend you be the investigating office for the case

        • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

          Hi, they shouldn’t normally be the same person, but it’s going to depend on the size of your Employer. If they are a small company there may have no choice. Lesley

          • bev

            It is a big company a university. She is the assistant director for the department

          • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

            Hi, then they should have the capacity to have someone else to investigate the situation. Regards, Lesley

  • Ian

    I received an email from my employer telling me that I had received a written warning for not carrying out tasks in my workplace i.e not hoovering etc, bearing in mind I was on my days off when these failures happened. I then emailed asking how this could be so as id not been on shift for the previous 6 8 hour shifts (all of which were worked by 2 different members of staff). Then I received an email from a hr agency saying that i had not in fact received a written warning but I was required to attend a discplinary hearing regarding the same issues that had occured on my days off. I have never received as much as a verbal warning in the past or had any other issues, this all happened 6 days after i sat in as an impartial witness for a colleagues discaplinary, they have called the meeting in 12 days time which seems a little bit too much of an unreasonable delay. I was warned by several colleagues that the employer would turn on me if I sat in on the colleagues meeting and this is what appears to have happened.
    Thankyou for your time.

    Kindest Regards


    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Ian, thanks for your message. I’m afraid you will have no choice but to attend the disciplinary hearing, although it appears rather pointless if you were not on shift at the time the incidents happened. Your ‘defence’ is as you’ve said above, and if you are not happy with the outcome of the disciplinary then you have the right to appeal their decision. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • Kaya Cheyanne

    An incident has occurred at work where I am being taken into a Disciplinary meeting with my Manager. The incident has happened over the Amendment of a job Offer email sent by a client which i have sent to a candidate. I changed part of the email as the discretionary bonus had not been included and I knew it was something which had been discussed via the brief and also during the interviews. I am going into a meeting tomorrow morning and would like some advice on the way to manage it. I’m going to be fully honest, I made the offer to the candidate and messed up by amending part of the offer, however with all my offers I make sure everything that has been discussed in the brief is included and also since being at the company I have not been told otherwise by my manager. I know now that this is a serious mistake and something that will never happen again, however what would amending the offer have done for me, i would have personally gained nothing more. They have said it could be an incident of Gross Misconduct and I am more than willing to put my hands up and say ‘I messed up, it was a big mistake’, yet would like to also make it clear to them there was no malicious intent involved from my end what so ever. Can you please advise the best way to handle this?

    Kind regards,


    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Kaya, thanks for your message. You need to describe to them, at the disciplinary meeting, what you have said above, as your ‘defence’. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • Darren southall

    I recently raised a grievence about my supervisor with regards to several allegations made against my person
    I highlighted three instances where my supervisor was wrongly accusing me of misconduct and had witnesses to back up my claims
    The grieve nice was subsequently thrown out without any investigations taking place whatsoever
    What I am asking is what would be my next step?

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Darren, thanks for your message. You should have a right of appeal so I would use that. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • Lily Blair


    I began work as an apprentice almost 2 years ago, and have almost got my qualification. Within the past few months a staff member was promoted to practice manager, who promptly got everyone contracts but myself. I Was given one but did not sign as it had the incorrect job title and working hours, i was refused a correct one. Recently her daughters have begun working for us, as they are due to start their apprenticeships in September, but now there is no more work. I am now facing possible redundancy as the mother doesn’t want her daughters to lose their jobs but would rather my hours be cut, or be made redundant.

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Lily, could you confirm what your actual question is as I’m not sure. Thanks, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • suresh

    i have been dismissed at a disciplinary hearing i need to pursue my options, the employer has refused to provide me with the minutes of the hearing, and furthermore the disciplinary was not recorded on a taping device.

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Suresh, thanks for your message. Your Employer must provide you with the notes and must give you a right of appeal to their decision. If you have worked there over 2 years you have the right to claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. I would send them an appeal letter and see what their response is. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • suresh

    i have been employed by my employer for 3months yesterday i was given a suspension letter together with a notice to attend a disciplinary enquiry.
    i subsequently resigned with immediate effect and was escorted out of the premises.
    this was accepted.
    what are my options to protect myself from further engagement with the employer?

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Suresh, I’m not entirely sure what you mean? Are you referring to references? Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk

  • Paul

    Can a text msg sent to my supervisor out of work hours be brought back into work against me ?

    • http://www.thehrkiosk.co.uk Lesley Furber

      Hi Paul, it’s going to depend what it was about/if it was related to work etc. Regards, Lesley, The HR Kiosk