Confidentiality Clauses Leeds

Confidentiality Clauses In A Settlement Agreement

The confidentiality clause is a standard component of a Settlement Agreement.

Confidentiality clauses can be stretched to a point where they become unrealistic, having the terms extended too far or exaggerated. In these cases, the clauses can be very difficult to legally enforce; over prohibiting often leads to what is considered a ‘gagging order’, which is illegal.

Standard Terms Of Inclusion

The confidentiality clause of a Settlement Agreement should contain the following:

  1. The employee must not divulge any legitimate trade secrets, private business matters,sensitive information, client/customer information or business data to any third party that they have ascertained during their employment.
  2. An employee must adhere to rules of privacy concerning the content of the Settlement Agreement, its existence, and its terms and conditions.

    Exceptions to this area are:

    • When acquiring the lawful advice from their chosen legal advisor.
    • Discussing their entitlements with immediate family.
    • Where an obligation to an organisation such as the HMRC is demanded.
    • Where an employee discusses matters with their family,the family members are also then bound by the same confidentiality.
    • All items contained by the Settlement Agreement are sensitive to the employer;they require private privileges, especially regarding compensation amounts and sensitive areas of their business practices.

The employee must also agree to refrain from making derogatory comments about their employer, the business or other employees.

This is a reciprocated clause binding the employer to the same limitation of commenting, passing remarks or making accusations about the employee.

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Enforcing A Confidentiality Clause

Confidentiality is in the best interest of both parties. If the correct legislation is followed to create the proper legal agreement, the confidentiality clause will protect both employer and employee from additional consequences on the completion of the agreement. This demands both parties adhere to the agreement and uphold all of its rulings throughout the future.

When an employer attempts to create a confidentiality clause to prevent information being released that is within legitimate bounds of public interest, the clause is rendered void and unenforceable by law.

A clause also becomes void if it is seen to be an infringement or obstruction to an employee’s right to make a protected disclosure. These events are more commonly known as whistle blowing and are covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Common Mistakes Made When Signing Off On Confidentiality Clauses

An employee must understand exactly what to keep confidential.

Read the agreement thoroughly.Be sure not to breach the agreement because you didn’t fully understand or view the complete material carefully enough. The agreement will cover more than you expect.

Tension will run high, and emotions will be vulnerable throughout the mediation; make sure not to slander an ex-employer during the time of mediation or after the process has been completed. Always remain professional in conversations about your ex-employer—you can never be sure which people may overhear you airing grievances against your employer.

You may be supplied with a list of people you are not allowed to communicate with, but once more, word passes quickly from one person to another, you can’t be certain of the links between the people you speak to and your employer. Information can easily end up in the wrong hands and in the worst-case scenario, back in those of the business providing the Settlement Agreement. Such a breach of the derogatory behaviour term will break the entire contract,and you may have to return part or all of your compensation.

Employees can also apply for a non-derogatory behaviour clause. If any co-workers had disputes with the terminated employee, they could be included in such a clause. This is designed to protect the employee in future employment roles,from character assassination or defacement. All employees have a right to protect themselves from this unwanted behaviour, so it’s a worthy consideration when protecting future affairs.

Legally, sharing information with anyone but your partner or spouse can be seen as a breach of confidence, especially to a new employer,whether they operate within the same industry or not. Even telling your family can break the settlement agreement and render you in breach of contract.

Never share any details on social media. Too many people make the mistake of venting issues over what they think is a private network. This is a huge breach of your agreement; the information held in your settlement agreement and in relation to your ex-employer’s business is sensitive, and not meant for your extended friends and acquaintances.

Your settlement agreement is an on-going and long-lasting contract. You mustn’t forget the rules you’ve committed to, just because you’ve received your compensation payout. Any breach of the contract in the future could demand you pay back part of all of the compensation you received.

You may also be liable for further court action if losses to your employer occur due to your disregard for the content of the agreement; for example if the business loses a contract or client due to things you have said.

Breach of the agreement is a criminal offense under data protection laws. Any employee breaking the terms of their agreement is subject to prosecution in a court of law, and liable for:

  • An injunction
  • Damages
  • Losses
  • The costs of both parties
  • Solicitor’s fees
  • Associated legal fees

The cost of making a simple mistake can lead to thousands of pounds, so adhering to your contract needs to remain of paramount importance at every stage of your future.

Confidentiality clauses can be complicated, but they don’t mean you can’t raise an issue with a previous employer or regarding information requested by a new one. If you believe a situation is at hand that requires further exploration or action with an ex-employer, or you don’t fully understand your rights or the consequences of a situation, it is always best to seek legal advice to attain the best method of resolution.

Do You Need Guidance On A Settlement Agreement Or An Issue Arising From A Confidentiality Clause?

Our specialist team of employment solicitors are at hand to offer informative and independent advice and guidance for any employment law situation. We specialise in the careful handling of Settlement Agreement cases with sensitivity and understanding. We understand how difficult any dispute with an employer can be so stand by our commitment to a respectful, considerate, professional and positive outcome in every project we undertake.

You can call on 0113 4334 118 or email for an initial consultation regarding all of your employment concerns. We offer complete and full advice in easy to understand terms to help establish the most likely outcomes for your case in a relaxed and pressure-free environment.