THE EMPLOYEE ROLE OF CONFIDENTIALITY:
Confidentiality or confidential information:
· Information considered desirable to be kept secret.
· Any information that the employer or client would like to have kept secret in order to compete effectively against business rivals.
· This information includes how business is run, its products, and suppliers, which directly affects the ability of the company to compete in the market place
· Helps the competitor to gain advantage or catch up
Privileged information, Proprietary information and Patents:
· Information available only on the basis of special privilege‟ such as granted to an employee working on a special assignment.
· Information that a company owns or is the proprietor of.
· This is primarily used in legal sense.
· Also called Trade Secret. A trade secret can be virtually any type of information that has not become public and which an employer has taken steps to keep secret.
· Differ from trade secrets.
· Legally protect specific products from being manufactured and sold by competitors without the express permission of the patent holder.
· They have the drawback of being public and competitors may easily work around them by creating alternate designs.
Obligation of Confidentiality:
1. Based on ordinary moral considerations:
I. Respect for autonomy:
· Recognizing the legitimate control over private information (individuals or corporations).
· This control is required to maintain their privacy and protect their self-interest.
II. Respect for Promise:
· Respecting promises in terms of employment contracts not to divulge certain information considered sensitive by the employer
III. Regard for public well being:
· Only when there is a confidence that the physician will not reveal information, the patient will have the trust to confide in him.
· Similarly only when companies maintain some degree of confidentiality concerning their products, the benefits of competitiveness within a free market are promoted.
2. Based on Major Ethical Theories:
· All theories profess that employers have moral and institutional rights to decide what information about their organization should be released publicly.
· They acquire these rights as part of their responsibility to protect the interest of the organization.
· All the theories, rights ethics, duty ethics and utilitarianism justify this confidentiality but in different ways.
Effect of Change of Job on Confidentiality:
· Employees are obliged to protect confidential information regarding former employment, after a change of job.
· The confidentiality trust between employer and employee continues beyond the period of employment.
· But, the employee cannot be forced not to seek a change of job.
· The employer‘s right to keep the trade secrets confidential by a former employee should be accepted at the same time, the employee‘s right to seek career advancement cannot also be denied.