Confidentiality rules

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Whether it's about their clients, finances, business methods, or products, every company has valuable information that it wants to keep confidential in order to protect its business interests. Since a wide variety of employees can have access to any or all of a company's private information, employers may enforce confidentiality rules to keep restricted information from becoming public knowledge. For instance, upon hiring, employers might have employees who have regular access to confidential information sign an agreement not to disclose this information to any outside party. If the agreement is violated, the employee may be subject to a fine, termination, or other disciplinary action. Companies may also have a general policy of confidentiality for every employee who has access to any form of personal information about customers or other employees. This policy should state clearly what company information can or can't be used by current employees, as well as what the repercussions are for violating the confidentiality policy. Other ways employers may protect confidential information include restricting information on a need-to-know basis and monitoring e-mail exchanged through company computers. Generally, if you leave a job, you're no longer subject to the company's confidentiality rules. However, some employers may choose to make what are known as 'non-compete clauses' part of their confidentiality policy. If so, non-compete clauses legally protect an employer from unfair competition from a former employee who has obtained trade secrets or other confidential information and used them to the benefit of his or her new employer.

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