Recording in the workplace by the employee


Technology has been booming in recent years: anyone can use smartphones or other gadgets to take photos and videos as well as record the voices of people they are talking to, without their knowledge. The consequences for the company can be serious.

Employee's interests

There are various reasons why employees record their colleagues or superiors without their knowledge.

A female employee who is invited to an interview may have a well-founded fear that her supervisor will sexually harass her or threaten her physical integrity. She will be tempted to record the interview without the knowledge of the interviewer. Is such behavior lawful?


Under certain conditions, the unauthorized recording of an employee in the workplace may constitute a criminal offence. In addition, the employee may seriously breach his/her duty of confidentiality and loyalty to the employer. Under certain strict conditions, this may constitute unfair competition, which may be punishable by a fine or a custodial sentence.

Such conduct on the part of the employee may result in a warning, ordinary dismissal or even dismissal with immediate effect, depending on the circumstances. An executive's behavior will be judged more severely in the case of dismissal with immediate effect.


When recording colleagues or taking pictures of confidential data, the employee risks causing damage to the company. This risk is even greater if the employee publishes these recordings on the internet or contacts the media. If the company suffers any damage, the employee will be held responsible and will have to repair the damage.

Company rules

It is sometimes not easy for employees to determine which behaviors are prohibited and which are allowed. They may not realize that recording in the workplace may constitute a criminal offence or seriously damage the company's interests. This may be the case when an employee, excited about a new project, shows pictures of a confidential prototype to his or her family.

It is therefore in the employer's interest to clarify the employees' obligations in writing in a company policy. 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon