New Zealand Post is suspending its practice of audio recording employees after the Postal Workers Union argued the practice was a breach of privacy – for both employees and the general public.
While the union had previously agreed recording devices should be installed on the company’s new electric vehicles, spokesman John Maynard said there had been no mention of audio recording.
"NZ Post had told the Postal Workers Union that the camera would be used to record visual images for use in investigating accidents and incidents threatening the security of its employees,” he said in a statement.
"The union learned only last week that the cameras also record sound, and that NZ Post management has been downloading and secretly eavesdropping on the private conversations recorded without the knowledge of the employees."
Maynard also said the issue went beyond the workplace as any members of the public who interacted with posties or were talking near one of the new Paxster vehicles would also have been recorded.
"Householders standing on their own doorsteps may also have their conversations with their posties being recorded without their knowledge," he said.
NZ Post initially defended the recordings as “industry standard” but has since suspended the practice following a consultation with the company’s legal counsel.
"Considering the impact this is having we have chosen to, as of today, to cease recording the audio,” acting general manager matt Riordan said in a statement.
"What we're doing is reviewing our procedures because the purpose of these recordings is so we can investigate health and safety and security incidents,” he continued.
Riordan also said the footage collected by the cameras had been used several times to look at health and safety incidents with one instances resulting in a complaint.
The company is now working with the Privacy Commissioner in an attempt to strengthen its procedures.