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Phoenix House v Stockman 2019 – Employees secretly recording meetings

There has been a recent employment law case which has changed the stance of covert recordings of disciplinary meetings. Formerly the Employment Tribunal permitted such recording to be admissible evidence if the covert recording was relevant to the claim and the employee/claimant would not have been sanctioned. 

However, in the Phoenix House v Stockman case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal stated that if the employee secretly records a meeting with the purpose to manipulatively entrap an employer then their compensation could be reduced either in whole or in part. Therefore, this case can now impose a huge sanction with the ability to decide not to grant an employee any compensation. 

In order for the employer to be able to defend itself from covert recordings, which could be manipulated to benefit the claimant, it should carry out the following steps:

  • Update the Staff Handbook stating that employees are not permitted to record meetings without prior written consent.
  • Ask employees to turn off their mobile devices (not just switch them to flight mode) before the meeting and ask them to confirm that they are not recording the meeting.
  • If there is a break in the meeting then the persons leading the meeting should retire to a different room (especially if they are deliberating).
  • Consider whether any words, comments or jokes would be prejudicial to the employer if the meeting was played before an Employment Tribunal. 

If you need any employment law/HR advice such as updating your Staff Handbook or assistance with disciplinaries then contact Lewis Holroyd on 01484 821 300 or Eaton Smith LLP can offer a monthly fixed fee HR package, fixed fees and work based upon our hourly rates.