Employment Law

Is it legal to record a conversation at work in Ontario?

A black, handheld tape recorder sits open on a wooden table with a cassette tap loaded.

Can you record someone without their consent in Ontario?

In Ontario, it is legal to record a conversation at work as long as one of the parties involved in the conversation consents to the recording. This is known as the “one-party consent” rule. Under section 184 of the Criminal Code, you can legally record a conversation if you are a participant, even without the other parties’ knowledge.

One-party consent rule

Ontario follows the “one-party consent” rule when it comes to recording conversations. This means that if you are part of the conversation, you have the legal right to record it without informing the other participants. However, recording someone without their consent in other situations is generally illegal unless specific exceptions apply, such as for law enforcement or other authorized activities.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Alex Lucifero discusses the right to record conversations at work on CTV Morning Live.

Can I record a conversation that I’m not part of?

No. It is illegal to record conversations your aren’t part of. Section 184 of the Criminal Code states that it is “illegal to intercept a private communication with a device” if you are not part of the conversation. If you are part of the conversation and consent recording the discussion, you are not breaking the law.

To record a conversation you aren’t part of, you typically need consent from at least one participant. Recording conversations without the consent of all parties when you are not a participant may violate privacy laws and could potentially lead to legal consequences.

Can I record a conversation with my boss in Ontario?

In Ontario, it is legal to record talks with your boss. Under the Criminal Code of Canada’s one-party consent rule, only one person in a conversation needs to be aware of and consent to the recording.

But before you do, consider the implications. Even if secretly recording such a conversation isn’t against the law, it could lead to your termination. While secret recordings can be legal, there are notable exceptions.

  • Recording or distributing recordings from areas like workplace changing rooms or during personal patient care may be prohibited.
  • Recording situations involving confidential or classified information at work could pose issues.

Can an employer record audio at the workplace in Ontario?

Employers in Ontario have the right to monitor workplace communications, but they must comply with privacy laws. Recording audio without consent is restricted under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Employers must inform employees of any recording practices.

Can I be fired for recording my conversations at work?

Yes, you can be fired for secretly recording a conversation with your boss or coworkers. In Ontario, employers can let an employee go for any reason, as long as that reason for dismissal is not discriminatory and the employee is given full severance – as much as 24 months’ pay.

However, your employer may be able to fire you for cause, without a severance package or EI, depending on the circumstances. If the secret recording erodes your employer’s trust in you, it could qualify as serious misconduct, resulting in a termination for cause.

• How to calculate severance pay
• Severance for provincially regulated employees
• EI and Severance in Ontario

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Can my employer record a conversation with an employee?

Employers can legally record employees if a company representative is present during the conversation. However, the content of the recording falls under privacy laws.

If your employer intends to record you at work, they should have a policy that complies with privacy laws. Additionally, you may be asked to sign an employment agreement acknowledging that you don’t expect privacy while working.

Can I record a conversation with my bully or harasser?

The guidelines for recording a conversation with your boss, as previously mentioned, also extend to recording talks with a bully. That said, there’s a distinction:

  • Purpose of Recording: If you’re documenting harassment aimed at you, it’s less likely that this would result in a just cause termination compared to recording something like a disciplinary investigation.
  • Best Practice: Though it may be permissible, it’s recommended to seek your supervisor’s consent before recording interactions with a bully.

Lost your job? Speak with an employment lawyer

If you were fired for recording a conversation at work in Ontario, contact the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

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