The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a claim of breach of confidentiality brought by a former employee against her employer.

The employee had left their employment following a confidential settlement agreement being reached. 

In breach of that settlement agreement the employer sent a copy of the settlement agreement to the Teaching Council when it reported that the employee had resigned (which it is required to do).  The attachment of the settlement agreement to its mandatory report was contrary to the instructions from the Teaching Council which specifically says not to attach settlement agreements to mandatory reports.

The report from the employer also specified (in another part of the form) how much was paid to the employee by way of settlement.  The ERA held that that too was a breach of confidentiality.

The maximum fine for these breaches was $40,000, but the ERA decided that the breaches were not deliberate as the employer had taken legal advice as to what it should send to the Teaching Council.  Unfortunately, that legal advice was incorrect.  Neither a copy of the settlement agreement, nor the amount of the settlement should have been disclosed to the Teaching Council.  They do not need that information under a mandatory report.

The employer was fined $2,000 with $1,500 of that to be paid to the employee.

Alan Knowsley
Education & Employment Lawyer