The employment contract of each individual is their starting point – and vitally important to get right. We offer advice on terms and conditions and on any unusual or tricky areas, such as non-competition clauses. The better the employment relationship is set up, the better the chances it will continue and thrive.
Legal issues, such as identity theft, data breach notification and privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), require employers to establish processes and procedures to secure and safeguard sensitive employee data and notify employees of any breach of this confidential
Many employers are unaware of their employee’s rights when it comes to privacy and other issues at the workplace.
Unfortunately, this is an area where ignorance is definitely not bliss, and could potentially land you in a lot of trouble.
Employee rights to privacy at work
As an employee you have rights, by law, to your own privacy at work – within limitations of course.
According to the law that stands today, there are three main privacy rights that employees have, which both an employer and employee must abide by – use of telephone and email, surveillance and the right to protect personal data; the latter reflecting both parties.
A general rule of thumb is to allow your employees privacy and help them feel comfortable in the office for example; let them have a personal space in the office, make space in office cupboards or provide lockers
Confidentiality in the workplace may be expected by employees, though few federal laws exist as of 2011. A couple of failed attempts have been made in Congress within the last 20 years to set up federal privacy laws. Nevertheless, a number of federal acts, one statute and some federal guidelines have been enacted that provide some minor employee privacy protections. Anything more will depend strictly on your state’s privacy laws.
HR is not only entrusted with maintaining sensitive information about employee and management issues, but also must protect this information under laws governing confidentiality.
To protect employees’ privacy and avoid unnecessary litigation or fines, it is critical for HR to identify which processes or documents are supposed to be kept confidential, safeguard this information, keep it in secure locations, and discard it in proper ways. This also includes restricting access to sensitive data online and in various applications, databases, and servers; and creating privacy policies in collaboration with their IT department.
Not keeping certain information confidential can result in lawsuits, identify theft, data breach, or defamation lawsuits. It can also undermine an HR department’s credibility and integrity. Here are four (4) types of information that HR needs to keep confidential.
A confidentiality agreement is a written legal contract between an employer and employee. The confidentiality agreement lays out binding terms and conditions that prohibit the employee from disclosing company confidential and proprietary information.
A confidentiality agreement is in effect for the duration of an employee’s employment and for a period of time following employment termination. The usual term of a confidentiality agreement is between one and three years and includes activities that the former employee is restricted from doing.