Q. I’m the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm’s growth, I’m considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees, two of which are her roommates. What’s to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights?
A. It is certainly appropriate and advisable to tell your assistant that her new role makes it even more important to be careful to safeguard the confidentiality of personnel information.
It is also permissible to explain that the confidentiality obligation is a requirement of the job, and it means that she must be especially careful not to share information with employees with whom she is friendly, even if one of her friends asks her about it.
Do you have any reason to suspect that she has divulged confidential information in the past? If so, you should warn her that such conduct is grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
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