Tip Sheet 8 - Voicemail Management

phone keys

Voicemail messages may be University Records when they are saved to network drives or are accessed through web or email applications. This tip sheet is designed to help staff and faculty understand how this affects York University’s compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

FIPPA requests and voicemail

  • Voicemail messages that are saved to network drives or that can be accessed via web or email applications must be included in any document search for records that may be responsive to a request for information under FIPPA.
  • When voicemail messages are provided in response to a FIPPA request, or can reasonably be expected to be responsive to an imminent request, they must not be deleted until the request has been completed.

Privacy and voicemail

  • Messages containing personal information should not be played where others can overhear their contents (see Tip Sheet 2 on Confidential Records for more information on handling confidential records).
  • Be familiar with sensitivity settings (e.g., marking a voicemail as Private) of the system you are using to access voicemail.  Some settings may only work for users within the same voicemail system, and therefore you may need to find other ways to indicate to non-system recipients that a voicemail message contains sensitive personal information.
  • Voicemail messages containing personal information that have been used for operational or administrative purposes must be retained for at least one year after use.


  • Maintain a professional tone in voicemail messages. Leave personal comments out of business communications.
  • Save only those messages that are essential for your ongoing work.
  • Identify transitory voicemail messages and delete regularly. Transitory records have no ongoing operational, informational, evidential or historical value and can be disposed of as soon as you have finished with them (see Tip Sheet 3 on Transitory Records for more information on identifying transitory records).
  • See Tip Sheet 5 on Email Management for ideas on how to manage saved voicemail messages.
  • See Tip Sheet 6 on Naming Conventions for Electronic Files and Folders for ideas on how to name voicemail files.

This document has been developed to assist in establishing good practices and procedures.  Additional questions or requests for advice on records and information management or information and privacy issues should be referred to the Information and Privacy Coordinator: info.privacy@yorku.ca.