Protecting your Business and Minimising Risk [Video]Posted in : Back to Basics on 25 May 2016
Quite often the employment team at A&L Goodbody is asked how an employer can protect their business, and quite often that protection is against their employees. One of the primary ways we suggest you do that is through contracts of employment and reviewing your key employee or senior contracts employment in that regard.
The first thing you need to ensure you have are confidentiality provisions, that relate to both the employment itself, and post-employment. You'll also want to make sure you have clauses in your contracts of employment that prevent solicitation and dealing with customers post-employment.
You'll want to make sure you cover the prohibition of competing with the company, within a defined geographical area, and you'll want to put a ban on poaching staff post-employment.
It's also important that you have, within your contracts of employment, provisions to stop employees referring to themselves as associated with the company after their employment, particularly in the likes of social media for example LinkedIn or Facebook.
Also make sure you have in there clauses in relation to the return of company property. Confidential documents for example, in both hard copy form and soft copy form.
A second way that you might wish to minimise the risk is by ensuring that any restrictive covenants that you have, within your contracts of employment, are reasonable in both scope and duration. The reason we say that is if they are not, and an employer seeks to litigate through injunctive relief proceedings, a high court may deem the clauses as unenforceable.
So you make sure you tailor your restrictive covenants to the individual employee. Make sure you review the restrictive covenants regularly, and make sure you change them to reflect the employee's function, responsibility and ultimately their seniority.
You might also consider, by way of protection, placing an employee that has tendered their resignation on garden leave, but only in circumstances where this is provided for in the contract of employment. If it's not, you should consider updating your contracts of employment so as to allow for it. But just a note of warning, prior consent from existing employees must be sought before implementation.
Another way to protect your business, we would suggest, is by reviewing your company's IT policy to ensure that it allows for the monitoring of email and internet usage during the course of employment, and also requires employees to set passwords when they switch on their computers, or they are away from their computers. This will minimise the risk of unauthorised access to confidential material.
Also consider prohibiting the sending of emails to personal accounts without prior authorization from a member of senior management. This addresses the age-old excuse that we see from employers [sic] that they are doing legitimate work at home. Consider prohibiting also the use of USB sticks, or portable hard drives, again without the prior authorisation from senior management.
It's also important that you as an employer back-up emails regularly so they can be called upon for review when they're required in investigation stages, usually. And you should also consider having an exiting-employee's computer forensically analysed to establish whether confidential information has been downloaded, emailed or otherwise taken.
Just again, a point of note from experience within A&L Goodbody employment team, you should not switch on a computer, until it has been digitally imaged, as this will then circumvent any allegation of tampering, that an employee might make, as against the employer.This article is correct at 25/05/2016
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.