Is an employer able to record a meeting with an employee to ensure that it has an accurate record of the meeting?
An employer that wishes to record a meeting with an employee must seek the employee's consent to the recording before the meeting begins, and must respect the employee's rights if they refuse to give their consent. A recording of an individual at work made without that employee's knowledge and consent may constitute a breach of their right to privacy under art.8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Although the right to respect for privacy is a qualified right, rather than an absolute one, it is unlikely that recording a meeting without the employee's consent could be justified as an appropriate and necessary means of achieving a legitimate aim. Taking a written minute of the meeting would achieve the same end. If, however, the employee gives their free consent, the recording may go ahead.
Any recording made will constitute personal information for the purposes of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (retained from EU Regulation 2016/679 EU) (UK GDPR). An employer can process personal data only if one of the legal bases for processing set out in the UK GDPR applies. Given that there will generally be the alternative of making a written minute of the meeting, it is unlikely that any of the bases, other than consent, would apply. The employer could rely on the employee's consent only if it is genuinely freely given, ie there would be no adverse consequences should the employee refuse to consent.
The UK GDPR requires employers to inform employees when they collect personal data about them and to provide them with information about how the data will be processed. Therefore, making a recording without the employee's knowledge would be a breach of the UK GDPR.