Recording disciplinary meetings

We recently suspended an employee who was accused of bullying another member of staff. We carried out the necessary investigations and then sent the accused employee a letter requesting him to attend a disciplinary meeting. However, we have now received a letter from the employee asking if he can tape record the meeting. Must we comply with his request?

WarningWarning: This page was first published in 2006

Although the information on this page is still relevant, it is no longer updated.

Employers should be aware that if the employee has a disability, some form of recording arrangement may amount to a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010.

A more recent article on this subject is available on XpertHR (subscription required).

There is no statutory obligation on any employer to permit an employee to tape record disciplinary hearings.

Therefore, unless the company disciplinary procedure sets out a right for employees to tape record hearings (and such a provision is not common), there is no obligation to agree to the employee’s request.

Permitting employees to tape record hearings can be problematic but good practice dictates that the employer should arrange for notes to be taken at the hearing. You could, therefore, advise the employee that he will be provided with a copy of the notes after the hearing. The employee and his companion are also free to take notes during the hearing.

Under the statutory disciplinary and dismissal procedures, the employee has a right to be accompanied at a disciplinary meeting by a trade union representative or a colleague.

The role of the companion is, however, limited. The companion is permitted to address the disciplinary or grievance hearing (but notto answer questions on behalf of the employee), and to confer with the worker during the hearing.

Unless the company’s policy states otherwise, the employee is not permitted to take a solicitor along to such meetings.

The Acas Code of Practice states that “it is good practice to allow the companion to participate as fully as possible in the hearing, including asking witnesses questions”. This goes further than the employer’s legal obligations in this respect.

Sinead Donnelly, solicitor, employment, DWF

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