Taupō Legal Corner: Can I secretly record meetings with my employer?

This week, Frontline Law attorney Julie Schmidt shares advice on secretly recording meetings with your employer. Photo/Getty Images


When relationships break down and trust is low, employees sometimes go into James Bond mode and want to secretly record conversations with their employer. But is it legal?

New Zealand operates under what is sometimes called the “one-party consent” rule. This means that as long as at least one person involved in a conversation consents to it being recorded, it is legal, even if the other people involved are unaware.

However, employees and employers must act in good faith towards each other, and just because something is legal does not mean it is permissible in an employment situation.

Ultimately, being allowed to record a meeting with your employer will depend on the circumstances.

An example is the Nicol v Canterbury Concrete Cutting NZ Ltd case in 2019. The Labor Relations Authority found that an employee who secretly recorded a disciplinary meeting did not materially damage the trust the employer had in the employee.

However, the authority considered that the employee had breached his obligation of good faith towards his employer. The authority said that even if, in these circumstances, the recording was not a serious fault, the employee should not have secretly recorded the meeting. For this reason, the compensation the employee would have received from his employer for the problem was reduced by $2,000.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to record a meeting with your employer. A recording can resolve any uncertainty about what was said later. However, if you want to record a meeting with your employer, let them know. It is not necessary to use 007 spy skills.

Tell your employer that you take the meeting seriously and want to make sure you remember everything that was said.