A common question that employees have is if they can record their conversations in the workplace. There are several reasons why one may want to create a recording. One obvious reason is trying to prove wrongdoing by a co-worker, superior or subordinate.

Firstly, you can record conversations with other members of your workplace. The Criminal Code outlines that individuals can record private conversations with other parties as long as one of the parties in the conversation consents to the recording. Therefore, if you are recording a conversation with yourself and a co-worker, your consent alone is sufficient. This is the case regardless of the conversation being in-person, over the phone, or via another medium.

According to our wrongful dismissal lawyer in Toronto, the recording party must also be present in the conversation. You cannot leave a recording device in your boss’s office to attempt to catch him or her “in the act”. Even if you are the topic of discussion between others in a separate room, you cannot record their private conversation.

Some Limitations to Recording Conversations in the Workplace

It is a non-starter to record conversations where confidential information or trade secrets are being shared. The consequences for recording such things can range from reputational damage, work relationships, and trust destroyed to termination with cause. At the very least, recording a conversation which reveals trade secrets or confidential information can lead to disciplinary measures.

Another aspect of recordings in the workplace for people to understand is whether there may be any breach of privacy issues. Capturing videos of others in a more vulnerable state (intimate, without clothing, etc.) can be considered a breach of privacy. The person in the vulnerable position does not need to be one of the parties involved in the conversation. For example, if the video recording between two doctors captures a patient changing, this is also potentially a breach of privacy.

Should you Record your Conversations?

Just because it is legal to record conversations does not mean it is always a good idea. Trust and honesty are key components of an employer–employee relationship. Recording someone without their consent or knowledge can damage that relationship, which may impact your career. It can also affect your reputation inside and outside of your workplace. It is important to be mindful of these considerations.

When Should You Record Conversations at Work?

The reason for creating a recording at work may very well be legitimate. There are several good reasons to record a conversation in the workplace. For example, one may choose to record their conversation upon termination to have a record of what entitlements the employer might have offered. Another reason to record a conversation is if someone in the workplace is spreading inaccurate information about you. A recording of the conversation with that person may prove the inaccurate information wrong. It is helpful in scenarios such as these to preserve a record of mistreatment or abuse in the workplace when there is no other way of showing such evidence.

Other Considerations

You should not edit the recording. Doing so can make it difficult to prove the authenticity of everything said or done in the recording. Individuals should also refrain from recording things that do not apply to them.

Lastly, whether the court will consider your recording to be reasonable also depends on the context of the situation. Questions such as why you made the recording: did you believe it was necessary, and what are your intentions with the recording may all be asked. This will help the court determine if the recording is justified and if your employer may be able to terminate you with cause.