Enforcing confidentiality provisions – an alternative
Are restrictive covenants and confidentiality terms in employment contracts worth the paper they are written on? As many employers will know this can be a source of frustration where a former employee breaches those covenants but when allegations of breach are made they are not treated seriously and then the costs of pursuing a claim seem prohibitive.
An alternative approach may be to involve the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) where confidential material has been unlawfully used. The ICO has recently provided details of a case where it pursued a recruitment consultant who stole personal data from his former employer which he used in order to launch his own business. In that case the consultant said he did this so he had his own records of what he had achieved (!) but he did admit to taking information from a database of candidates. As you would anticipate, the former employer was not impressed by this explanation and made a notification to the ICO. Eventually the ICO investigated, prosecuted and secured a conviction for unlawfully obtaining personal data. This is a difficult area of law and there is plenty to consider in terms of the data protection policies and security of the former employer as a referral might backfire!
However, it may be relevant for employers to emphasise to employees in employment contracts and on their departure that they could commit a criminal offence as well as breach restrictive covenants and/or confidentiality terms if they take and use personal information as described.
If you have a query or would like to book an appointment please get in touch with our First Contact team on 01256 320555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org