Confidentiality and confidential Information (employees)

As a matter of the general law, the employer "owns" its trade secrets or confidential information and the employee cannot use or misuse these secrets and information.

Is all information confidential?

Not all. Employers can only protect information that really is confidential, i.e. information that would be harmful to them in the hands of someone else.

However, they cannot stop you from using your own skill and knowledge gained during the employment or after it ends, since this is your own property.

As you can imagine, it can be difficult to pin down the employer’s confidential information.

What is confidential information?

In an employment law context, one test to determine confidential information is:

  • Does the employer think that disclosures would be injurious to him or advantageous to his rivals or to others?
  • Does the owner believe that the information in question is still confidential (i.e. that it has not already become public)?
  • Are those beliefs reasonable?

The information must be judged in the light of the practices of the trade, business or industry concerned.

How can Roberta help?

Roberta believes that prevention is better than the cure and that taking advice first on the extent of your obligations whether contained in your employment contract or other documentation or as a matter of the general law is essential if you are thinking about setting up in competition, joining a competitor or being part of a team move.

Contact Roberta for advice and a review your documentation so that you can be sure of the what you can and cannot use or do.

If your former employer already has been in touch, then contact Roberta for advice next steps.