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Topic: Policies

listening to music policy
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Listening to music policy

Listening to music policy

Our policy prohibits staff from listening to music at work without your prior permission, whether this is personally or publicly. You’ll need a public performance licence, called TheMusicLicence, if you permit music to be played publicly at work.

Pros and cons

With the advent of open working environments, many employees have turned to music to help them drown out noise and concentrate on what they’re doing. But is it a good thing? Studies have shown that music can make repetitive tasks easier and improve an employee’s mood, which in turn can increase their creativity, efficiency and productivity, and it can also help to block out distracting background noises, such as colleagues’ telephone calls and conversations and whirring photocopiers. However, on the negative side, it can present a health and safety risk in some workplaces where it’s essential to hear important announcements and noises; some types of music, particularly those with lyrics, can be distracting and interfere with learning; there can be a perception amongst other staff that employees listening to music aren’t really working; colleagues are less likely to approach an employee who is “tuned out, making interaction more difficult on work matters; it can look unprofessional in front of clients and customers; it can disrupt colleagues if the music is played too loudly; streaming constant music through the Internet can slow down internet speed; and you need to pay for a licence if the music is played publicly.

Your decision

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you’re going to let your staff listen to music at work, but our Listening to Music Policy sides with the negatives and places an outright ban on listening to it without your prior permission, regardless of the particular medium (radio, mobile phone, website, etc.) and regardless of whether the employee is using personal headphones or earphones. Remember that the most important consideration is health and safety as you must comply with your duty to take reasonable care of your employees’ health and safety in terms of providing a safe working environment and safe working practices. Our policy also makes listening to music a disciplinary offence.


PRS for Music and PPL

If you play music in a public place (which also includes a workplace, even if the general public don’t have access), whether this is on a radio, TV, CD or through the internet or a digital streaming service, you’ll first need to have obtained a licence from the Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS for Music) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL). Otherwise, you’ll be in breach of copyright. When you buy a CD, make an iTunes purchase, digitally stream music or listen to the radio, you only have permission to play the music in private in a domestic setting, so the licence effectively grants you permission to play it publicly within the terms of that licence. PPS for Music collects royalties for the songwriters, composers and publishers and PPL collects royalties for the record companies and performers, so you need a licence from both. However, you can now purchase a single joint licence, called “TheMusicLicence”, from their joint venture company. The cost of the licence varies depending on the type and size of business and the way in which music is used in the business. So, if you do permit music in the workplace, the only way to get around this is for employees to listen to radios, the internet, etc. on an individual basis via headphones or earphones, or to listen to their own personal music players. Our policy points out that publicly playing music without your prior permission could put you in breach of copyright if you don’t have a licence.


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