Employment tribunal fees could soon become extinct, after ministers ruled they were obstructing the public’s ‘access to justice’. The removal of these fees is expected to cause an increase in the number of cases brought against businesses, as individuals are no longer financially deterred by proceedings. Facing this increased risk means organisations should press record more often, according to Maxine Park, solicitor and co-founder – DictateNow:
Although proceedings will usually begin with a quiet word off the record, it is important that those dealing with staff interviews or meetings adhere to company policies, else the situation may spiral out of control.
Capture every word, every time
Straying away from company policies during interviews and meetings can lead to a whole host of issues, which includes the risk of employment tribunals on the grounds of unfair dismissal or breach of contract. These issues can easily be avoided, and recording all conversations from start to finish is an effective way to protect your company against such claims.
Informing parties that a meeting is being recorded beforehand is best practice, as this helps keep personal feelings and emotions in check, and allows people to obtain a copy of recordings afterwards. Recordings capture every word, so it is essential those managers tasked with undertaking disciplinary and grievance interviews etc., understand the correct procedure and stick to it, even in the face of provocation.
Keep an open mind
Another common accusation in these scenarios is that a manager failed to keep an open mind during an interview or meeting. Recordings capture every syllable, showing the tone of voice in which words are spoken, which helps give context to a conversation for those not present at the time. Pressing record is also much more accurate than having a note-taker try and write down every spoken word. A recording is unbiased and does not get caught up in the intensity of the conversation, achieving 100 percent accuracy.
Get up to speed
As there is no need for a writer to manually take notes, recording can speed up the process. Using recordings also removes the need for multiple rounds of checks and amendments, which means parties can obtain a copy of the meeting’s conversation without having to wait for approval. Another common complaint of employees is that the manager or senior member of staff dominated the discussion and failed to give them adequate time to voice their full opinion, which did not allow a fair conversation.
Recordings can once again help debunk these claims, as they capture the entire meeting, including the parts where no one is speaking. These recordings can also be used internally for training purposes, offering organisations an opportunity to review the meeting or interview and make necessary changes to procedure or policy based on how it was handled.
Smaller businesses should find that digital dictation machines, or dictation apps for Smartphones and tablets, will suffice for the small number of one-on-one personnel meetings they are likely to undertake. For larger organisations, with an expectation of more such interviews, often with many attendees, transcription service providers can supply conference-style recording equipment, with multiple microphones.
Get a certificate
The best external service providers, well-versed in the process of transcribing hearings and interviews, will also provide a certificate of accurate representation with the transcription. This certifies the transcription is a faithful reproduction of the sound file, using verbatim transcription that includes all the ‘umms’ and ‘errs’ that have a direct effect on the flow and meaning of the conversations being recorded. Unlike more traditional transcriptions of dictation where the skilled typist excludes mistakes and hesitations, in interview transcriptions, any omissions may inadvertently affect the intended meaning of any spoken response.
Failing to keep accurate records of an interview can cause problems at an appeal stage or if a case proceeds to an employment tribunal. Being able to access an accurate transcription of any interview, a certificate of accurate representation and the original recording, will significantly reduce any assertion that accurate records were not kept. Any tribunal will appreciate the ability to listen to a recording of any interview, because it will offer insight into the detail or emotions of the individuals involved.
Take it seriously
Although disciplinary hearings may hold negative connotations, they can actually be very helpful for your business as they enable you to resolve problems efficiently, preventing situations from escalating. By showing initiative and recording entire meetings and interviews, you can help streamline procedures and put your employees at ease by allowing them extra protection. External transcription service providers are sometimes seen as an unwarranted expense when most organisations are looking to cut costs. But, just how much might the accusation