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The best way to protect confidential information in the workplace is to provide employees with a framework of procedures and policies. Confidential information in the workplace includes examples of client records, business plans, employee personnel files, technological data, research and development strategies, financial information, marketing strategies and data, pricing strategies and vendor/supplier lists. Employers may incorporate their confidentiality policy into their employee handbook. In addition to the handbook, having the employee sign a confidentiality agreement is stronger and is a legally binding contract.
An effective confidentiality policy not only defines confidential information and non-disclosure rules, but it also provides a clear reporting procedure for when an employee suspects confidentiality has been breached. By designating a contact person to address such situations, the employer can ensure proper handling of the alleged breach and limit exposure of the information. Also, there are certain protocols for handling confidential information to include in the employer’s policy.