What should we do before we start taping employees’ phone conversations? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

What should we do before we start taping employees’ phone conversations?

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Q. For quality-control purposes and to ensure that workers are not making personal telephone calls, we would like to tape-record the calls employees make on company phones. Would that be legal?

Employers may tape-record conversations that take place on company telephones as long as all the parties to the conversation consent to the recording.

Under California law, failing to notify workers and those to whom they are speaking that the conversation is being recorded could result in criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Additionally, an injured party may be able to collect civil damages for invasion of privacy—including punitive damages. Thus, failing to notify both the employee and the other party of this practice could result in significant liability.

Before implementing a policy of recording conversations, notify employees in writing. Further, set up a way to notify outside callers that conversations are being tape-recorded. For example, many companies have a recorded message that notifies callers that their telephone conversation may be recorded and provides other phone numbers customers can call if they object to this practice. By continuing the conversation on the recorded telephone line, customers have given their implied consent to the recording.

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