Following the prosecution of an ex-employee of Leicester City Council this month, the Head of the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has reminded employees that “People’s personal data is protected by law and employees should not be helping themselves to information if they decide to set up a new business or move to a new position”.
In this case, before leaving to set up their own business an employee working in the Council’s Adult Social Care Department sent 34 emails to a private email account. These emails contained personal information belonging to 349 individuals and included details of medical conditions and care, together with financial and debt records.
Having breached section 55 of the Data Protection Act, the ex-employee was fined £160 and ordered to pay £364.08 prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Although the fine is relatively modest, the threat of prosecution should give those employees looking to use such confidential information for the benefit of themselves or another pause for thought.
Reporting someone to the ICO may be an option but it is no substitute for tailored restrictive covenants / post-termination restrictions covering confidential information, competition, soliciting customers / suppliers and poaching staff. Any employer looking to protect their legitimate business interests should not hesitate to contact our Employment Team to discuss updating their Employment Contracts.