Commercial Legal Advice – Recording Incoming Calls

“Your call is important to us…”

Does your business record incoming phone calls?

If yes, you should have a pre-recorded message to notify customers, and tell them why, for example, quality control and training.

If your phone systems can’t pre-record a message, your telephone operators must notify customers at the start of the call.

You must also add suitable wording to your privacy policy, for example: “We may monitor, record, store and use any telephone, email or other communication with you in order to check any instructions given to us, for training purposes, for crime prevention and to improve the quality of our customer service”.

Recorded phone calls must be stored securely, and only retained for an appropriate time. Customers have the right to access the data.

Do you record phone conversations made by your employees, or monitor their emails?

If yes, you must say so in your staff handbook, and explain why.

You must also give employees access to a private phone line they can use for personal calls during their lunch break.

Every individual has the right to respect for their private life, family life, home life and correspondence, including in the workplace.

This means that employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy at work, and must be warned if their communications may be intercepted. Even if they do not expect privacy, you must be able to justify your action, and any monitoring should be proportionate to achieve its purpose.

Here are some best practice tips:

  • Only monitor employee communications for specific purposes
  • Always tell employees in advance, such as in their staff handbook
  • Only do covert monitoring in exceptional circumstances, such as a criminal investigation. This should only happen on a strictly targeted basis for a limited period of time

What if you don’t comply?

Under the Data Protection Act, personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully.

If you collect sensitive personal data, further restrictions apply and you will need to obtain explicit consent.

The laws that cover monitoring and recording calls and emails include:

  • Lawful Business Regulations
  • Data Protection Act
  • Human Rights Act
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

If you don’t comply, you may face civil or criminal action and even a substantial fine.

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