When an employment contract expires, a much smaller class of confidential information is protected from use or disclosure by a former employee. This is usually because employees should not be prevented from using their experience and know-how in their next position. However, not all company information is considered confidential; all information that is already publicly available is not confidential and therefore cannot be protected; The principle is that the person could have been alerted to the information without being an employee. While a struggling reputation doesn`t seem as harsh as a hefty fine, it can have serious long-term consequences for an employee guilty of breaching confidentiality. This is especially true when the employee works in a specialized sector where competing companies are very familiar. Employers will not positively consider potential employees who have been dismissed for breaching confidentiality or convicted of a crime related to this type of breach. Ultimately, a person who violates the privacy of a patient or client or violates the confidentiality of an employer will struggle to shake that reputation for the rest of their professional life. In particular, it is essential that companies have clear protocols regarding inside information and strong and well-written confidentiality agreements, in order to minimise the risk of breach of trust. You can protect your business from breaches of confidentiality by including in your contracts: many companies recognize the threat posed by the harmful competitive activities of employees and former employees and the potential effects of the disclosure of trade secrets and confidential information by these individuals. The law allows companies to guard against this by using confidentiality clauses and restrictive agreements. The extent of the protection afforded by law to employers depends largely on the nature of what the employer is trying to protect and how it does so. This fact sheet examines how employers can try to protect themselves from the competitive practices of current and former workers. In other situations, the offence may be due to illegal circumstances.
In 1996, employees of the social security service were caught stealing confidential information. .