Individual Employment Agreements can provide a range of protections for employers once their employees have left their employment.  However, the intellectual property and confidential information of an employer will continue to be protected after employment ends even if there is no clause protecting such information in a written agreement.

Present and former employees are prevented by law from disclosing, without authorisation, trade secrets and other similar highly confidential information.  The nature of the information must be such that if disclosed, the information would cause significant harm to the employer’s business.  The information must not already have been made public and the employer must have limited the distribution of the information in some way.  Knowledge of customers, budgets, pricing, and markets are some examples of information which may be protected in some circumstances.

When determining whether information meets the high threshold for protection, Courts will look at the nature of the information, the nature of the employment, the employee’s role and the employee’s knowledge of the nature of the information.

Employees can face criminal charges if they are found to have knowingly taken or copied trade secrets for their monetary benefit, or to cause the employer loss.

If you are unsure whether information you have would be considered confidential it is best to seek legal advice.  If you wish to protect your information from disclosure and be clear about what is protected you should include intellectual property and confidential information clauses in your employment agreements.

Mikayla Turner

Employment Lawyer Wellington