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Can I record virtual meetings with my employees?

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Following the past year many of us are now used to conducting all of our meetings virtually on platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. While this technology has been helpful in keeping us connected, it has also made it easier to record meetings where necessary. Our Employment Law team reviews here why it may be a requirement to record such meetings, as well as a variety of the GDPR implications of recording virtual meetings, advising several steps employers should take if you decide recording a meeting is necessary.

UK GDPR Considerations when recording virtual meetings

Virtual meeting recordings will contain the personal data of all those present at the meeting and anyone that is spoken about during the meeting. Video recordings may also contain sensitive personal data as they can reveal personal characteristics about the employees such as their gender, race, and religion. Under the retained EU law version of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), you should only collect personal data when it is necessary. You should therefore first consider whether you need a recording of the meeting or whether a less intrusive method, such as handwritten notes, will suffice.

Recording a meeting may be necessary where:

  • you need a verbatim account of what was said;
  • it is to accommodate a disability;
  • the employee’s first language is not English.

If a recording is necessary you should consider whether an audio recording would be sufficient as this is less intrusive than a video recording.

You should be aware that you may have to provide a copy of the recording to an employee if they make a data subject access request in the future, and there is the possibility that the recording will need to be disclosed in future litigation.

Employee consent to being recorded

If your employees agree to allow you to record your virtual meetings, this may still not be sufficient to comply with GDPR. This is because the imbalance of power between an employee and employer may mean your employees do not feel that they have a genuine choice to refuse to allow the recording to take place. You should therefore be able to identify another lawful basis for recording the meeting, such as one of the reasons listed previously.

If you have a legal justification for recording the meeting, you will not need to get your employees’ consent but you will need to inform them that you are recording and your reasons for doing so. Employees may object to the recording or refuse to attend and so you should inform them early on so that you have enough time to discuss their reservations and address their concerns.

Practical considerations when recording virtual meetings with employees

If you decide that it is necessary to record a meeting you should first conduct a data impact risk assessment to identify the legal basis for recording, any data protections risks and any steps you will take to mitigate them. You may need to update your privacy notice to include this information.

In addition, you should take the following steps:

  • Establish who will be responsible for making the recording, for example a manager or senior employee. You should make it clear to the other employees in the meeting that no one else is permitted to record and that unauthorised covert recordings may be treated as a matter of gross misconduct which will be dealt with in accordance with your disciplinary procedure. At the beginning of your virtual meeting you should ask all employees to confirm that they are not recording.
  • Determine how the recording will be stored and who will have access to it. Under GDPR you have a duty to keep the information secure. For this reason you may require that any and all recordings be made and stored using company IT equipment, prohibiting employees from sharing the recording or making copies. The recording should be made available to as few people as possible and only to those who need to access it for the reasons you identified in your data impact assessment.
  • The recording should be kept only as long as necessary for the reasons identified in your impact assessment. If you have to keep the recording for longer than you originally planned, you should inform the relevant employees of this and the reason why.
  • Keep in mind that video and audio equipment is not infallible. During the meeting you may experience technical issues, or later discover the quality of the recording is not very good. You should therefore still take notes of the meeting or have a designated note-taker.

The topic of recording virtual meetings has become a popular one for employers recently, with the questions of confidentiality and data protection vitally important. If you have questions about how to proceed if you wish to record virtual meetings with your employees or about UK GDPR in Employment Law, contact us today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk.

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ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.