Light-fingered employees may want to think twice about emailing company documents to their home address before leaving their job. The number of such cases is growing and employers are more willing to take employees to task for it, Minter Ellison employment partnerGareth Jolley says.
"We are seeing an increase in employees leaving and taking confidential and other information with them, or breaching their post-employment restraints. Over the past six months in particular, there has been a surge in the number of those cases."
Some companies are responding to these breaches by seeking court orders.
"They may approach a court to seek an interlocutory injunction, either preventing an employee from using the information or preventing them working for the new employer or soliciting clients, etc," Jolley says.
"If an employee had taken a copy of the company's current marketing plan and emailed it to their hotmail address - which is not an unusual occurrence - at the most extreme end of the scale the company may obtain a compulsory search order.
"It enables the employer to enter the employee's home and take an image of their computer. There's quite a number of cases like that going on right now."
For Jolley, technological change has fundamentally changed the employer-employee landscape.
"What employees do is now more traceable than ever through technology," he says.
"It may be that once upon a time an employee would do the same thing and take a copy of documents home in their briefcase, but you might never have known."
"Now when an employee does the high-tech version of that same thing - copies a document to a USB [device] or emails it home - it is traceable."
Fairfax Business Media
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