Smartphone applications that provide audio and/or video recording capabilities are of great use for individuals as well as businesses. However, when it comes to an office atmosphere, whether to allow employees to record official matters like meetings or employee conversations in their smartphone depends on the company’s policies. Office meetings can be recorded for several reasons – to recall important points, edit and share the recordings or to re-purpose the videos as webinars. Professional business transcription services can help convert these recordings into accurate transcripts for further reference. Even when encouraging employees to freely use their devices, organizations also have the responsibility to protect the privacy of employees and customers.

Business Meetings

Read our blog on ways to make your business meeting more engaging.

Recording Meetings – Advantages

Audio as well as video recordings of meetings allow sharing a great deal of important information in a short space of time. Transcripts of these recordings include everything that was discussed in the meeting. This type of document is more effective than manually writing meeting minutes, as it will describe everything that was discussed without missing any key points, rather than simply summarizing. While minutes are the official written record of the meetings of an organization, they are not transcripts of those proceedings. Most companies also require mandatory business transcriptions to avoid disputes and lawsuits.

Legal Issues

In most states, it is against the law to record an in-person conversation without getting the consent of at least one person. While recording company meetings, it is critical for employees to check the specific laws that apply to their state to know what kind of consent is required. Whether employees can record conversations at work largely depends on corporate policies and consent laws. Consider whether you are recording in a state with “one-party” or “all-party” consent laws. In a state with one-party consent laws, only one party of the conversation (typically the person doing the recording) has to be aware of the recording, while states that have two-party or all-party consent laws require everyone involved to give permission. For instance, The Washington Post reports that Virginia is a one-party state, while Maryland requires the consent of all involved parties.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press explains that under Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, it is unlawful to tape record a conversation without the permission of all the parties. The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its privacy laws. Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties. In case of electronic communications too, consent is required to disclose the contents of text or e-mail messages sent between wireless devices.

In Virginia, an individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents. The consent of at least one party to any telephone communication is required to record it. For more details about privacy laws in any state and how those laws can be applied to recorded conversations related to business meetings, employees can better consult an attorney.

Employers must make sure to provide permission to record a meeting in front of the people who are likely to be recorded during the meeting as a way of requesting consent. This provides opportunity for any employee to reject to be recorded in a conversation they are participating in.

Recording with permission is legal, and many workplaces do just that as official policy – recording conference calls and meetings.

Based on laws that apply to the concerned state, organizations can make a decision specific to each situation. It is ideal for companies to set an anti-surveillance policy first so that they can refer back to that policy as a reason. Such a policy will serve as a protection of employee rights. Such policies should state clearly that your firm values the privacy of workers and want to ensure their safety.

The recent case of such official recordings discussed was that of Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide who released secret recordings of conversations held inside the White House, which has made international headlines.

According to the report in Irish Times, the Irish law is complex and is governed by at least three separate provisions – the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications (Regulation) Act 1993, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and an individual’s constitutional right to privacy, plus their rights under European Convention on Human Rights. And so, it’s not just single-party consent, GDPR and privacy people need to consider.

Meetings can be recorded in keeping with applicable laws and regulations. By recording a meeting, you can avoid handwriting worries. Whether the recording is made using phone, tablet or another device, businesses can replay and review what was said audibly. Experienced digital transcription agencies can transform those recorded notes to your specifications, whether you want a verbatim or non-verbatim version of the meeting.

In our next blog, let us discuss some tips to record business meetings!