Home > Managers > Worker-Manager Confidentiality

Worker-Manager Confidentiality

By: Matthew Strawbridge - Updated: 23 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Manager Information Company Employee

It is common for people who have a good relationship with their managers to tell them things in confidence. Most of the time, it makes sense for managers to keep such disclosures to themselves. However, there are occasions when they need to use their judgement and consider breaking this bond of trust for the greater good. This article discusses the issues relating to confidentiality in the worker-manager relationship.

Gossip

It is generally the responsibility of managers to control the spread of gossip through an organisation; it would certainly not be professional for them to contribute to any such rumours and speculation.

People in authority may be privy to all manner of confidential data about their business and its workforce. But they have a position of responsibility, and have been trusted to maintain the confidentiality of this data. Where less senior staff need access to this information, the business will generally release it to them in an appropriate form.

The Good of the Company

The good of the many outweighs the good of the few. For example, if a manager is told something that suggests a worker could cause harm to themselves or others, their responsibility is to take measures to protect these people even if it means breaking the confidence.

When a manager is told something in confidence that could be against the best interests of the company, they have a difficult decision to make. Should they respect the privacy of the individual, and keep the confidence as a private matter? Or should they report the incident, benefiting the company but risking loss of the trust of the workers below them. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this, and it remains largely a matter for the conscience of the manager to make a call based on the severity of what has been revealed.

Confidentiality of Criminal Acts

If an employee admits to having broken the law, the people who have been told may become accessories after the fact, and may face legal action themselves if they do not report what they know to the authorities in a timely fashion. A manager may wish to advise them to confess their crime officially, which may lead to a more lenient punishment. If a confession is not forthcoming, the supervisor may have no choice but to make a formal report.

If a member of staff admits to taking illegal drugs, or to having some other form of addiction that could impair their work, it is appropriate to notify the human resources department. They should be able to offer support services to the employee, and to ensure they seek help and are monitored.

Keeping Secrets

In life outside the office, some people are better at keeping secrets than others. However, at work, a manager has a responsibility to be professional. One mark of this professionalism is the ability to keep certain information confidential, filtering out the confidential parts from what is passed down to workers, and controlling what is fed back from them to higher management.

Sometimes subordinates will divulge information that really ought to be passed back to the company. In this case, a manager has a difficult decision to make: to keep quiet or to pass the information on. Making the right call takes training and experience, and it is the ability to take the correct action in circumstances such as this that separates the great leaders from the rest.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
My co worker asked me if my status at work is rotation or permanent night shift. I asked her “why”. She said that she’s confused and how come I don’t rotate to another shift. I told her, we need night shift workers so why do they rotate me to another shift. She said, I already asked our manager to find out to HR if you are a rotation or permanent night shift. For me, I feel that my co worker violated my privacy. Is this a breach of confidentiality?
Ellen - 23-Jun-19 @ 11:00 PM
I've had some personal things happen at a past job that wasn't supposed to be spread but I've found out that the manager spread it what can I do
May - 19-Jun-19 @ 4:39 AM
My confided in her manager of a health condition I recently developed,this manager then went on to tell other members of staff,my daughter was understandably upset at my condition and therefore was not as cheery has her usual self the manager took offence to this and has forced to face a disciplinary committee. What can she do to keep her job and her good name within the company
Ian - 11-Jun-19 @ 11:24 AM
I recently had to hand a sick note into work. I handed it in to a trusted staff member as Manager wasn't in yet. But i have since discovered that what i thought was a trusted staff member, then not only read my sick note bit was also showing it to other staff members. I feel this is a breach of not only my trust but my privacy. Am i correct, if i made a complaint to management that it would be considered a breach of privacy?
Kaykay - 7-Jun-19 @ 6:29 PM
Hi, I had a conversation with my 2ic in regards to a staff member. The end result of our private conversation was that we would call this person in and explain our situation and how he has not been keeping up with standards. Our agreed conversation was to be no written or verbal warnings but to be only a formal conversation which we where all to sign off on noting that next time a witness would be required if we had to have the same conversation again. My 2ic went out and told this person on what was coming his way. Now the meeting had to be cancelled because of what I believe being a breach. This is the second time this has happened and coincidentally to the same person who was going to be questioned. Where as a supervisor do I stand with this as I believe this is poor performance, breach of confidentiality and now have lost trust in his ability as a 2ic.
Cracka - 4-May-19 @ 1:08 PM
if i am getting suspended from work should other employees be able to tell me that i am getting suspended before I MYSELF find out i believe that this is breaking the private and confidential law? what can and should i do about it?
Berty - 23-Apr-19 @ 8:59 PM
Can a line manager send you home when they know that you not going to be in while no one else is in the area of work as no cctv, as I don’t trust my line manager after a joke that they thought was funny which included a knife lucky enough blade was pointing away and did slit throat action and said drop dead, both police and HR have done nothing really for this
Toni - 12-Apr-19 @ 1:55 PM
If I phone in sick is my manager revealing my reason to the rest of the staff acceptable
Hully - 8-Apr-19 @ 10:45 PM
its it wrong for an ops manger to tell other members off staff once suspended they wont be bk to work and have displinary before the person whos having the disaplinary
glory - 7-Mar-19 @ 1:32 PM
My colleague Downes not fully do her work while she is at work. She breaks the rules of the office. I told manager in confidence and stressed the fact...yet she disclosed our conversation to my colleague. She breached my confidence. How should I tackle this matter?
Laura - 26-Feb-19 @ 7:19 AM
I exchanged msg with my manager saying that i heard lots of rumours about unchapy people on shop floor as wel some other thing. I Said that its just between me and him. Just wanted to help him understand situation. In return he saidthat im doing complaints and he will take me on meeting to director and hr for sprading rumors. Is it break of confidentiality? As well i know that he keep more important informations from management to cover some people ( who done big mistake) but iim gona have probably disciplinary hearing. Is this discrimination?
Mick - 26-Feb-19 @ 2:30 AM
I've battled with depression for many years was off sick for a long period, so I told my boss the reason for this long episode off work and at first he was understanding - promised he wasn't going to tell anyone else - but now everyone in my work knows. Isn't this a breach of confidentiality?
Ash - 14-Feb-19 @ 9:15 AM
My managers in work sent a disciplinary (written warning) to another member of staff by email instead of me by accident. In the email contained the full investigation report on the issues that was raise.. surely after them giving me a warning for not following protocol (speaking with a next of kin).. I must be able to do something about this.
Tash - 15-Dec-18 @ 9:13 AM
Hi, I have sent my line manager some emails regarding work issuesand later found out that she hasdivulged this information to the admin team and having a laugh at my expense. What should I do ,as I am ragingwith anger that a manager could do such a thing. Thanks
Tony - 12-Nov-18 @ 12:23 PM
I have emailed hr asking about any company policies regarding couples at work, a member of hr went to my manager behind my back, informing about me sending this email. Shouldn't it be confidential?
Juli - 10-Nov-18 @ 2:23 PM
To clarify there is NOT a rule about fraternization or work place relationships or disclosures I have checked.
Kristine - 24-Sep-18 @ 3:25 PM
I recently discovered that I was pregnant by one if my coworkers I have been seeing for a year. There is no fraternization rule at our work but my boss whom I thought was my friend knows about it. I told her in confidence and now shes saying i have to disclose who the father is to the CEO and the other partners because the father is higher on the professional chain. She is doing it to protects herself yet playing it like shes protecting me. I am leaving that job in 6 months anyway which she is aware. I do not feel that I have to disclose who the father is as we have always maintained a professional atmosphere that has caused no discord for anyone. For all anyone knows the father could be Joe schmoe. It's none of anyone's else business who the father is. Can they force me to do this? She basically told me if I don't get an abortion she will tell or I have to.
Kristine - 24-Sep-18 @ 3:23 PM
I told another employee about my anxiety attacks in confidence , and she told another member of staff without my consent. My manager(who already knew about my anxiety) told me this information In my supervision. I have asked for an agrivence to be done. What happens now?
Chelly86 - 21-Sep-18 @ 8:48 PM
@stick - they don't have to tell you - the person who handed it in can ask that their name remains confidential.
MarkE - 17-Sep-18 @ 1:47 PM
my facebook information has been handed into management ? if i ask who has handed it in to them . do they have to tell me please ?
stick - 16-Sep-18 @ 2:55 AM
Hi I have just put a grievance in a work I emailed it to HR as I couldn't send it to my line manager as they were named in it. When I first telephoned HR they said email the letter which I did and I did not hear anything off them until 15 days later, and this is totally different to what there grievance policy says. I am off work at present with work related stressed. Then they sentthe grievance letter to my line manager who is named in the grievance, surely this is a brief of confidentiality. After I became aware they had sent to the line manager I contacted the HR department who then rang my line manager and asked them to delete the email.
Bolly - 2-Aug-18 @ 2:40 PM
@E - you'd have to make your own executive decision here. If she has told you who is her line manager, then she's not exactly kept it a secret.
MollY - 20-Jul-18 @ 10:14 AM
Hello, At the moment I am on stress leave related to work (I have been signed off three months). I have just found out that one of my colleagues heard from my manager that I am on stress leave and told the other colleague it. The other one might have told the rest it. I am worried that rumours spread around the work... it is clear that the manager breached the confidentiality of my stress leave.What should I do regarding this situation?
George - 19-Jul-18 @ 1:01 PM
Kris - Your Question:
HiI have a disability and it restricts what work I can do at work. I called my line manager to tell him I couldnt do a certain work. When he came off the phone he openly discussed my issues with other managers from a different part of the business who are not involved in my employment and where not aware of my disability.Is he allowed to do this.

Our Response:
Your only option is to speak to your line manager informally. If your manager does not respond and you feel you have been treated unfairly, please see the link here for further information.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 19-Jul-18 @ 10:04 AM
As a line manager an employee who has been here only 6 weeks has informed she is 9 weeks pregnant. She does not want others toknow until she is 12 weeks. Should I tell my boss?
E - 19-Jul-18 @ 9:41 AM
Hi I have a disability and it restricts what work i can do at work. I called my line manager to tell him i couldnt do a certain work. When he came off the phone he openly discussed my issues with other managers from a different part of the business who are not involved in myemployment and where not aware of my disability. Is he allowed to do this.
Kris - 18-Jul-18 @ 9:50 AM
SpecK - Your Question:
I work for a treatment facility and my supervisors gave me a u/a which I signed a confidentiality agreement before I went. After my u/a the lead tech who drove me left my receipt in the tech office and everyone that works there either saw it or heard about it and rumors started that I was given a u/a because I fell asleep at work and hit my head on the computer and that my u/a was positive for meth which both are untrue, my results are still not back as if yet. Also the recovery specialist called the mhp (my room mate) who doesn't even work in our dept. and told her I had a u/a and it was positive for meth and I was evicted from where I was living. I was given the u/a on Sunday 6/17 at ten pm and by Friday 6/22 everyone knew about it and I was evicted from my place and I was told I would go in on Monday 6/25 and they would have the results and we would go from there. I was called Monday and told they still didn't have the results and they would call me the next day which was yesterday and I received no call. I believe not only was confidentiality breached but my name was also slandered which caused me to be evicted.

Our Response:
Please see the link here , which should tell you more.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 28-Jun-18 @ 11:20 AM
I work for a treatment facility and my supervisors gave me a u/a which I signed a confidentiality agreement before I went. After my u/a the lead tech who drove me left my receipt in the tech office and everyone that works there either saw it or heard about it and rumors started that I was given a u/a because I fell asleep at work and hit my head on the computer and that my u/a was positive for meth which both are untrue, my results are still not back as if yet. Also the recovery specialist called the mhp (my room mate) who doesn't even work in our dept. and told her I had a u/a and it was positive for meth and Iwas evicted from where I was living. I was given the u/a on Sunday 6/17 at ten pm and by Friday 6/22 everyone knew about it and I was evicted from my place and I was told I would go in on Monday 6/25 and they would have the results and we would go from there. I was called Monday and told they still didn't have the results and they would call me the next day which was yesterday and I received no call. I believe not only was confidentiality breached but my name was also slandered which caused me to be evicted.
SpecK - 27-Jun-18 @ 11:45 AM
Boo - Your Question:
I have been on the sick from work for 2 weeks as I have had too much going on and was struggling to cope, the doctor put it down to stress. I went back to work today and my manager made a comment on the shop floor, in front of everyone saying "aww your back, you look alright for someone who is stressed" I thought this sort of stuff was confidential? I was so embarrassed! Am I thinking to much into it or should I make a complaint. Tia

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 14-Jun-18 @ 11:54 AM
I have been on the sick from work for 2 weeks as i have had too much going on and was struggling to cope, the doctor put it down to stress. I went back to work today and my manager made a comment on the shop floor, in front of everyone saying "aww your back, you look alright for someone who is stressed" i thought this sort of stuff was confidential? I was so embarrassed! Am i thinking to much into it or should i make a complaint. Tia
Boo - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:08 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments