I would like to record the telephone calls of our staff to ensure quality service however one of my employees opposes it stating that it is unlawful. Is this the case and can I record phone calls? 

Generally, employers need the consent of employees before they can lawfully monitor communications at work e.g. telephone conversations, email, internet use etc. Without this consent, listening to your employees’ telephone calls is likely to be a breach of data protection legislation.

The usual method adopted by employers to overcome this is simply to inform staff that monitoring of this kind will take place so that an expectation is placed with them that this will happen. This is best done in a formal manner and in writing to avoid any confusion or claims by the employees that they had not been made aware of your intention.

The formal method can be done in a couple of ways. One is by including a clause in employees’ contracts of employment which states that certain communications undertaken by the employee during the course of their work will be monitored.

Another method is to implement a broad communications policy, for example, that sets out the company’s general intentions and expectations around all methods of communication. This could also include your expected standards of behaviour in relation to the use of telephones, internet etc. It is best to set out the reason why you want to monitor calls.

This is of more significant importance if you allow your staff to use their work phones for private conversations whilst at work. If this is the case, you will have no method of distinguishing whether a call is for work purposes or a private call until you listen to some of the call.

Where this happens, you should ensure that you cease listening as soon as you realise that the call is a private one.

Otherwise, you can simply tell your staff that they may no longer use their work phones for private purposes. Having a non-recorded phone line enables your employees to have a private conversation in rare emergency circumstances, but you should make sure your consent is given first before the phone is used.

Contact Peninsula online for advice on this issue, or call us on 0844 892 2772 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.