Employees can be both an essential asset of your business and its biggest risk.

When employees have contact with your clients or have access to your business processes, know-how and trade secrets, it is essential that you protect your business against employees taking that information with them when they leave, or disclosing it if they become disgruntled.

There are several ways to protect your business from your former (and current) employees.

Some of the ways to protect your trade secrets and know how are:

  1. Protect your data. You should obtain expert assistance from your IT provider to ensure that your business information is secure and can be tracked. This is necessary to ensure data is not downloaded and sent off site without your knowledge.
  2. Have appropriate employment agreements and up to date policies, including those regarding confidentiality, surveillance of computers and devices.
  3. Have restraints in your employment agreements. The restraints need to be carefully drafted to ensure they afford no more than "adequate protection" at the time of entering the contract. In NSW the law surrounding restraints adds further complexity to this area. Essentially, in NSW the courts can rewrite a restraint in circumstances where it considers it is against public policy. This means that you should ensure your restraints are drafted properly from the start.
  4. Be prepared to enforce your restraints, your employment agreements and your policies if your employees are in breach. This may mean performance managing, terminating employees, or taking action to obtain an injunction or seek damages against former employees under their agreements to protect your interests.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.