It is quite common in the course of employment for employees to have access to, or knowledge of, sensitive information that requires employees to exercise strict confidentiality, and the information must only be used for proper purposes.

Confidential information may be financial, health or general business information and records such as client personal details.  However it could also consist of trade secrets or specific technical information unique to an organisation.

Information can require ongoing confidentiality, even after the employment has been terminated.

Employment agreements can contain express provisions for the protection of this information, but they can be difficult to enforce.

Importantly, once the information has been disclosed the damage has already occurred, so the question of what is an appropriate remedy is a difficult one.

If an employer has knowledge or a reason to believe that an employee, either current or previous, is about to use any confidential information for a forbidden purpose, an injunction against that person may be sought to prevent the improper use.

Other options available to employers, if the breach occurred while the employee was current, could be dismissal or some other form of disciplinary process.  If the breach occurred while the person was no longer an employee, the relevant clause in the employment agreement may still be enforced and damages may be sought.

It is important for employers and employees to know the options available to them, and specifically that those confidentiality clauses may be enforced long after the employment has been terminated.

Official and private information should only ever be released if necessary and in accordance with applicable legislation.