Breach of confidentiality 

Know your rights as an employer you’re faced with an employee breach of confidentiality

There is so much sensitive information in your business, and this needs protecting – not just for your businesses sake but for your clients and employees. By putting confidentiality clauses and restrictive covenants into your business, you can negate some of the concerns that others will share this confidential information. However, employees may still decide to share information with the public or a new employer, which is considered a breach of confidentiality. But what do you do when you are dealing with this?

This month, we look at your rights as an employer when you are dealing with a confidentiality breach and how your local Marlow solicitor can support you.

What constitutes a breach of confidentiality?

Your employees should be aware of this agreement when they first sign their contract. In various industries, whether you are in healthcare or finance, public services or private practices, your clients expect complete confidentiality, and you will expect trade secrets to remain a secret. Therefore, a breach of confidentiality occurs when an employee shares certain information that could damage the business, other employees, and/or clients.

Business information can be classified into four types including: 

Trade secrets – Information protected both during and after employment even if there is no confidentiality clause in an employees contract

Public information – Information that is accessible by the public and cannot be made confidential

Confidential information – Information that is protected and should not be shared – employees are made aware of this.

Employee skills and knowledge – The skills and abilities your employees have that enables them to do their jobs

Dealing with an employee who has breached company confidence

Before confronting the employee about a breach of confidentiality, you will want to gather as much evidence regarding the matter and confirm that the employee in question has breached company confidence. Once you have completed this, you may wish to discuss it with the employee, including explaining you are aware of a breach of confidentiality and describing the breach in detail, including its consequences.

Ensure you follow this up in writing so the employee is clear of the discussion and you can keep a record of the discussion. Once you have done this, you may wish to follow your internal procedure for dismissing the employee or relieve them of specific duties until you resolve the situation.

If your employee refuses to participate in the investigation, it may be worth obtaining legal advice from your local solicitor. This is where employment Law specialists Herries-Smith can support. Get in contact today if you are dealing with a problematic breach in the workplace. If you decide to take legal action against your employee, you may obtain an injunction. An injunction is a court order that prevents someone from using your confidential information. You may also be able to claim damages that the employee must pay you.

Preventing breaches of confidentiality in the future

Those who have dealt with these difficult situations in the workplace will know just how much damage they can do to the business, including loss of clients, loss of income and damage to reputations. If you are looking to prevent further breaches of confidentiality in the future, we recommend you take the following steps to protect your business and your clients:

Express duties of confidentiality: Clearly set out your employees obligations concerning any confidential information, including clearly defining what confidential information you are discussing and what the penalties will be for breaching confidence.

Mark your confidential Information: Make your confidential documents clear to your staff, so they are aware of what they are handling. Ensure these documents are locked away when they are not being used.

Training for your staff: Invest in some staff training so they can truly understand the damages that a breach of confidentiality can bring about.

Introduce restrictive covenants: a popular choice for many business owners now, a restrictive covenant will prevent your employees from competing against your business or dealing with some business contacts for a reasonable amount of time after they have left your employ.

Choose who to share with: Depending on the level of confidence a piece of information needs, you may choose to only share this with those required to know it for the purpose of their job. Don’t share all information across the business if you don’t have to.

You may also be interested in:

Handling constructive dismissal effectively in the workplace

Understanding your employment tribunal and what to expect

What to do if your contract is verbal

Herries-Smith are your local Marlow solicitors specialising in employment law

At Herries-Smith, we know the importance of protecting your clients and your business. When dealing with a situation such as a confidence breach, you shouldn’t have to work through this alone. As your local Marlow Solicitors, we are ready to take your call and support you in getting to the bottom of your investigation and finding the outcome that works for you.

When you choose to work with Herries-Smith, you will be working with the same expert solicitor throughout your case, and we promise to speak to you in a way that you will understand – we won’t bamboozle you with legal jargon and will always work to your best interests. Get in touch with Herries-Smith today to see how we can help.