There is always a risk that an employee may misuse confidential information especially when in dispute with the company or leaving to take up employment elsewhere.
It is vital that employers should ensure employees know the consequences of pilfering sensitive data
The misuse of information such as client lists or business plans, by using personal email accounts, memory sticks or old fashioned photocopying is a threat every business has to face.
Removal of the information may come to light in various ways, perhaps via a routine check by the employer’s IT team, or by the ex-employee’s new employer contacting the old employer’s client list. The company is at greatest risk in the period prior to an employee’s resignation – after receiving the resignation it can protect itself by enforcing garden leave clauses and restricting the employee’s access to systems.
There are various remedies for the employer including:
- simply writing a legal letter demanding that employees return all information and provide formal written undertakings that employees have deleted the relevant information and have not disclosed it elsewhere. This would give employees the opportunity to avoid litigation.
- Where this is not enough protection, the employer could request a sworn affidavit (declaration made under oath) from the employee,
- One defence often adopted by employees is that the information was legitimately removed to assist them in working at home. Employers will need to assess the credibility of this position.
For more information on the above and advice on
- Employer liabilities
- Employee penalties
Visit the CIPD website