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What’s the answer? Confidentiality – Controlling the office gossip (continued)

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Martin Brewer, is a Partner with the employment team of Mills & Reeve

Pauline, there is no need to ask this individual to sign a new confidentiality undertaking in order to reinforce that obligation. Every contract contains an implied confidentiality obligation on the part of the employee and, as you say, there is also an express clause in her existing contract.

If you did want to reinforce confidentiality generally you could send an appropriately worded notice round to all staff reminding them not to discuss confidential business in the open plan environment and, if anyone does overhear or otherwise become aware of confidential information then they must remember not to discuss this.

You will also need to reinforce the issue with the individual employee concerned, so how is it best to do that?

It seems to me that having tried, and frankly failed, with the informal approach, the next step is a formal disciplinary warning. This requires you to follow your disciplinary procedure (which must comply with the statutory minimum procedure).

You will need clear evidence of your concerns. I doubt that you would dismiss for what is after all a first offence, but the gravity of a formal warning may have the desired effect.

And if it doesn't then this individual will be on notice of how seriously you take breaches of confidentiality, she will be on a 'yellow card' so to speak, and you would be in a strong position, if there are further infringements, to move to dismissal.

Martin can be contacted at: [email protected]

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