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A ruling in the Punjab National Bank v Gosain Case has completely flipped this ‘double sided coin’ when considering whether covert recordings in the workplace may be admitted as Tribunal evidence.  In this case, contrary to earlier rulings, both the Tribunal and the EAT (Employee Appeal Tribunal) allowed a secret conversation to be admitted as evidence.

The above January 2014 ruling contradicts a number of earlier rulings including Amwell View School Governors v Dogherty where the Tribunal ruled that covert recordings taken of management deliberating at the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing were unacceptable, a breach of trust even, and should NOT be submitted as evidence.  That conversation had been ‘a private one’ and the employee had not sought consent to record that private conversation on a mobile device.

In Punjab National Bank v Gosain the employer was not so fortunate and appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).   Judge Peter Clark agreed with the original Tribunal ruling that here the circumstances were very different.  Gosain’s case involved alleged sexual harassment, sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.  Shortly prior to her resignation Gosain attended a grievance meeting which she secretly recorded.  One can only imagine the shock that employer must have felt when personal comments made between management about Gosain were deemed not to form ‘part of the deliberation in relation to the matters under consideration’ so were admitted and played openly across the courtroom.  One of the comments confirmed that the MD had given specific instruction to dismiss Gosain (a pre-determined outcome). Another comment was an admission that key issues raised should be ‘skipped’ and other comments were in Punjabi which, when translated, were found to be sexually explicit and shockingly inappropriate. No amount of appealing on the employer’s part worked as The EAT agreed with the original Tribunal judgement.

This is a significant case. It will open the floodgates.  Employees will rejoice in the belief that they can lawfully, secretly, record colleagues and management.

Given our world of ever-changing technology employers are forced to re-visit the way they operate and there is an urgent need to review internal attitudes, practices and procedures. Social Media Policies that previously caution employees with regard to covert recordings need to be modified to include strict ground-rules for management.

At The National Bullying Helpline we hear all too frequently from employee’s who ask whether a recording they have made can be used as evidence. Now we know. The door is not closed. Clearly, it depends on the circumstances and the merit of the case.

For further information call Christine Pratt on 07734 701221 or, of course you can email her at Either way she will be happy to discuss the above with you.

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