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The employee has no specific legal right to record a disciplinary hearing and you can therefore refuse the request. Of course this refusal may lead to confrontation at what is the outset of what might be a difficult meeting. So what can you do?

Conversely you may want to consider making a recording yourself, or to making that a condition of allowing the employee to record the hearing.

But if you want to refuse here are some possible reasons:

  • We might both be inhibited from speaking freely.
  • The fundamental relationship between employee and employer should be one of trust. If we use a recording it undermines trust.
  • It could be that one or both of us gets agitated or loses our cool and it is not ideal if that gets recorded.
  • Interruptions, diversions and partials sentences can make the transcript difficult to follow.
  • Discerning precisely what was said difficult, especially on occasions when one person talks over another.
  • If every word is to be exposed subsequently to detailed scrutiny then there is a danger of transforming what should be a sensible discussion into a Court of Law.
  • A lot of work has to go into getting a recording transcribed and typed up. This can be very time consuming and we would rather avoid it.
  • Notes can be agreed at the end of a meeting. It is not so practical to listen back through a recording.
  • Recordings, like notes, can be edited. They are not therefore automatically valid.

Finally, it is worth noting that many HR professionals have used recordings to good effect. They may be valuable when meeting with slippery characters who may say one thing in a disciplinary hearing and hope to say another in an Employment Tribunal. Some HR professionals use them routinely and speak very positively about their experience. I have not come across any disasters.

Some research for this blog was done on LinkedIn – the full thread is here.