Home > Managers > Worker-Manager Confidentiality

Worker-Manager Confidentiality

By: Matthew Strawbridge - Updated: 2 Oct 2017 | 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]
Sassy - Your Question:
I was on a temporary contract and was verbally offered the job in that time another contractor contacted me for an interview and I the agency I was with also called me and arranged the interview. Unfortunately I wasn't sussecful so decided to stay in my current job. A week later I was called in by my line manager and was told Friday is my last day. I asked why and was told it was down to budget. I later that day before I left I checked their website and my job was being advertised. I asked the agency what was going on and they said they can't argue with the clients decision. I have now found out that the head of my department was asked by the agency if they had a problem me going to the interview who h he clearly did. I want to know if this is acceptable as they were asked by myself to not let my current employer know and it has now cost me my job.

Our Response:
Your only recourse is to complain to the agency directly. However, you have little recourse here as you are on a temporary contract and it is up to the employer's and the agency's discretion regarding what they communicate with each other. Your employer is the client of the agency and therefore their client will be the agency's priority. If you were looking for another job, your employer may have assumed you would be unlikely to stay long term.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 3-Oct-17 @ 10:18 AM
I was on a temporary contract and was verbally offeredthe jobin that time another contractor contacted me for an interview and I the agency I was with also called me and arranged the interview.Unfortunately I wasn't sussecful so decided to stay in my current job.A week later I was called in by my line manager and was told Friday is my last day.I asked why and was told it was down to budget.I later that day before I left I checked their website and my job was being advertised.I asked the agency what was going on and they said they can't argue with the clients decision.I have now found out that the head of my department was asked by the agency if they had a problem me going to the interview who h he clearly did.I want to know if this is acceptable as they were asked by myself to not let my current employer know and it has now cost me my job.
Sassy - 2-Oct-17 @ 8:48 AM
My line manager has just given me my appraisal. It was average despite how hard I feel I work for the company. My annoyance is that I don't believe she wrote it herself as I know her writing very well. I believe her husband may of wrote it, who does not work at our company. I confronted her and asked to do a sample of her writing but she wouldn't or couldn't as it obviously wasn't her. Is this breaking some confidentiality act as I thought appraisal were private?
Annoyed - 12-Sep-17 @ 6:14 PM
I was told by another coworker that our manager didn't like me and 2 other of my coworkers. My coworker heard it from another coworker because the manager told her personally that she didn't like us 3. So I went to my mangers office to talk to her about this. My manager denied the rumors by saying if she didn't like us she would just run us off or fire us. 1 of the 3 coworkers talked to her as well about the same issue and she said, I know your coworker (me) already talked to me about this. The manger went on to discuss in some detail of what we talked about. I thought when you spoke with management its suppose to be confidential? Is this a breach of confidentiality as well?
Dreamer - 7-Sep-17 @ 10:25 PM
I was expecting a call at work today from my doctor, that was coming to my mobile. The phone rang and i answered it but it was an agency calling about a job interview i went for yesterday. Before i could take the call outside my manager heard the person on the other end of the phone asking how the interview went yesterday. I was only outside a few minutes but on my return she had told another work colleague about the call and the content. The interview was taken on a half day holiday. Am i right to be really angry that she disclosed what my call was about?
Hells - 7-Sep-17 @ 4:59 PM
Hi, my fiance and I work together... Some reacent events that were not my fault, led to me being fired. I have not yet heard that I am fired by any manager. My fiance heard the manager gossiping about how I do not work there anymore after another employee asked if I could take their shift... What are my rights here? Should she be telling other people that I am fired before I even know???
GT - 2-Sep-17 @ 5:56 AM
My manager was told of sexual allegations against me which I can prove are false. She discussed them with a colleague not involved to see if she was approached by me for sex. Yet she never discussed these allegations with me. What are my rights on this. I've started a tribunal with this info and I intend to take this all the way.
Craig - 1-Sep-17 @ 6:20 PM
Where I work their is two sites but both run by the same rules. Last night on public transport a girl from the other site sat behind me in her uniform with company logos in full view. She does not know me as I have never been to the other site to work and I noticed her because of the uniform and name badge. (I am still in probation so don't have the correct uniform yet so she couldn't see I work there too) She sat and loudly slagged the company and colleagues off, she mentioned no names but it was evidently clear that she was talking about it. It was quite vicious what and how she said it and people on the bus could hear her. Do I bring this up to management as if it gets back from one of the other passengers they will know I was on that bus too and it may affect me if I say nothing
Safc1973 - 1-Sep-17 @ 7:24 AM
I recently informed my deputy manager about my pregnancy. As it's early days I didn't want every body at work knowing. I've found out he has told people in different departments and I'm really not happy about this as he has breached my confidentiality. What can I do about this?
Qwerty101 - 31-Aug-17 @ 3:06 PM
Lalala- Your Question:
Recently I have been having a really hard time at work as my manager has all of a sudden turned on me and I don't know what I've done wrong. She has bumped into my Mam outside of work and told her that I could be getting sacked amongst other private work things. Is this a sackable offence?

Our Response:
You would have to talk to your manager or higher manager directly about this in a bid to try to resolve the matter informally. If your managers ignore your complaint or you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here .
EmployeePrivacyRights - 31-Aug-17 @ 2:11 PM
Recently I have been having a really hard time at work as my manager has all of a sudden turned on me and I don't know what I've done wrong. She has bumped into my Mam outside of work and told her that I could be getting sacked amongst other private work things. Is this a sackable offence?
Lalala - 30-Aug-17 @ 6:07 PM
I need advise- my GM, AM and supervisors were all talking openly today in the middle of work about my drepression and anxiety and all the other staff could hear them it was really embarrassing and I'm pretty sure it's illegal. Also the GM is the worst for spreading roomers I have told him things in confidence befor and in the next 10 muinets the whole of work will know. I want to make a complaint but don't want to lose my job, what should I do?
Caz - 8-Aug-17 @ 11:29 PM
My employer sent a very personal and confidential letter along with private medical info to me by way of a workmate who hand posted it threw my letter box at 22:30 at night surely this info should of been sent in the mail marked confidential any advice ???
Ctay - 7-Aug-17 @ 11:56 PM
Lara have you resovloved this issue? Happy to help. Trade union rep -Don't worry not a militant employment law qualified. M
Micky - 7-Aug-17 @ 3:01 AM
Hello All Fell on this site by default. I have read your posts and I am amazed at the lack of help. I am happy to assist you the best I can. I will try and guide youn and you and sign post you to the best advice. If I can't help you.
Wonderwoman - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:39 AM
I struggle to work with a narcissistic colleague who has treated me badly since just a few days after I started in the company. I have confronted her to see if we could make efforts to improve our work relationship but that wasn't successful. The treatment still continues and ultimately it affected work ( motivation, the mood in the workplace, emotional wellness, amongst other things. So when my appraisal came I said it to managers. Who advised about setting up a meeting with her using a mediator. I didn't want to do this as it means confrontation with someone who you don't want to cause more trouble and make it even worse. Who wants to be ace to face with ge devil to prove to her she's wrong and she's treating me disrespectfully. She doesn't see she does wrong. This said person has recently given notice and I knew this was going to happen so didn't rock the boat and just told myself to live with it , it will all be over soon. To cut a long story short. "Said person" made a petty lie up about about me to my line manager. And my line manager responded by making work place adaptions for a few weeks. Ie : relocating me to a different office while said person works off her notice. But this wasn't the reasons given to me although ultimately I get the feeling it is. In my defence I set up a meeting with a more senior manager to talk about the difficulties. And update her to how the situation is and to defend myself about the lie and put the story straight. We spoke honestly about the ongoing problem and she also agreed that "said person" previously has issues with others and she wished I would have taking it further so she could deal with it officially. Anyway. All that conversation got back to "said person" through whatever channelsthat same day so my issue is to confront the manager with this. The manager has now left me feeling I can't trust her with anything confidential again. She is in breech of confidentiality and I want her to know I am not happy with this behaviour. How should I handle this?
Lara - 17-Jun-17 @ 7:12 PM
Hi, I have recently had a misscarrige, I went into work after going to the hospital. My boss was in Italy and she text me asking why I hadn't answered the phone at 9, I replied by telling her I was really sorry I was late and what had happened. She replied saying she was 'shocked' by my message. Maybe she didn't want to hear my bad news? I was upset by this as I was already feeling very emotional. I carried on with my day and after work found myself in a lot of things pain, I headed to a and e where I was given morphine then had the baby surgically removed to stop the pain. I hadn't checked my phone as it was the last of my worries, when I did I saw a message from my boss asking if I could come in early. I replied apologising saying I had Togo back to the hospital I didn't mention in detail as I didn't want to 'shock' her again and said I wouldn't be able to go in atall, I got a nasty reply saying I've let her down and that it is very inconvenient for her, at this point I was extremely angry. Me losing my baby was an inconvenience for her. Does she have a heart? The next thing I know I receive a disgustingtext from her lying that was meant for someone else saying that a friend of mine (we don't have anyone mutual) saying I had an abortion and that I seemed happy about it and that I had time off the week before (I didn't have any time of the week before) I was so angry I confronted her and she still didn't apologise I told her she was absolutely disgusting with no heart and I quit my job. I was wondering if she had broken the law by lying about me and discussing my personal life?
Jade - 27-Apr-17 @ 10:22 AM
It was my manager who breached confidentiality. I reported this to my area manager who said that i couldn't do anything about it because the person that informed me of the breach was no longer working for the company. This troubled me for sometime and i still have sleepless nights due to this. Is there anything I can do.
Suz - 24-Apr-17 @ 6:17 PM
Sabz- Your Question:
I work as a medical secretary and I'm fairly new at the job. My manager had a referral for her brother inlaw and I did the referral the same I do all the others, she then proceeded to change my letter, she made a big deal that I hadn't rushed it through (even though it wasn't urgent) and basically made a big deal to the other department manager and got her brother inlaw seen the next day!! Since then she has made my life hell!! She has also once took a picture of another family members referral! I feel like I want to report her!!

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 - 21-Apr-17 @ 11:47 AM
I work as a medical secretary and I'm fairly new at the job. My manager had a referral for her brother inlaw and I did the referral the same I do all the others, she then proceeded to change my letter, she made a big deal that I hadn't rushed it through (even though it wasn't urgent) and basically made a big deal to the other department manager and got her brother inlaw seen the next day!! Since then she has made my life hell!! She has also once took a picture of another family members referral! I feel like I want to report her!!
Sabz - 20-Apr-17 @ 6:29 PM
Hi I think my employer has breached my privacy. I handed my sick note from my doctor in to work yesterday to a supervisor as my manager is not in. However today I have been messaged by a non- management member of staff who knew my reason for being off sick & said that most of our department know. Surely it is not right for management to have shared my medical note with non management members of staff? Is there anything I can do?
Misssunshine - 26-Mar-17 @ 11:41 PM
Look in for some advice yesterday I received a phone call stating that someone was getting out of prison which panicked me as I am a victim of S.A . I called my manager to make her aware of the situation and that I wouldn't be coming into work that night as my head was up my backside. I returned to work today only to find out she has told another employee on my shift (only 3 employees on my shift including myself) that employee then lied stating she found out through facebook yet nothing was posted on social media at all and she could have only found out from my manager. Is there anything I can do I'm completely and utterly embarrassed and horrified that she'd disclose such sensitive information about me.
Crushed - 8-Mar-17 @ 4:03 AM
My payrollCompany sent my p45 to anothermember of staff. What can I do
Carlacorreia - 6-Mar-17 @ 6:09 PM
Hi. I have sadly lost 2 babys over the last year. I asked my manager not to say anything as i was not ready to tell people, when i returned to work i was As horrified to learn she had been telling peole and gossiping. Also i was signed off work during the pregnancy due to complications and she told people i was not ill really surely this isnt right.
Lauuzz - 4-Mar-17 @ 7:04 AM
@BigstanThe company can do what it wants - but to do this is just awful and demoralising. Speak to your employer and if you don't get a result raise a grievance! Kate.
CathyG - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:05 PM
Can a company post the amount of sick days each person has had off on a wall on show to everyone ?
Bigstan - 2-Mar-17 @ 4:23 PM
Hi. I am a manager now under investigation for breach of confidentiality. I was in a personal relationship with another colleague. She was trying to contact me one day and I replied to her stating I was in a disciplinary meeting with (Named person). This was a private message between the two of us. Later (two months) we split up and she has now reported me and submitted this text as evidence. The business is looking to dismiss me for gross misconduct / loss of trust and confidence. I have been reading up on the law and there are a number of things I understand that is a defence. 1. Article 8 of the strausberg human rights employment law - Everyone is entitled to private communication. 2. Statutory law and common law - for a breach to occur there has to be detriment to the person (no detriment, the person didn't even know I had sent the text to my then partner. 3. It must be of magnitude, not trivial. I did not disclose anything about why or the out come, only it was a disciplinary. 4. A breach cannot occur if the information is already in the public domain. The person whos disciplinary it was, was openly discussing on the shop floor with her colleagues earlier. As she had never had a disciplinary before she was asking other colleagues advise. Therefore it was already in the public domain. Am I correct in my understanding?
Manager - 4-Feb-17 @ 12:40 PM
My work colleague didn't come in to work last Friday as his mum had been taken into hospital. He phoned the manager on the Thursday night when she was taken in to inform him of the situation and let him know in advance that he may not be in for work in the morning. He sent a text to the manager early Friday morning to confirm that he would not be in that day. Later that morning the manager phoned my colleague, not out of concern, but to ask if it was him that had stolen a box of co-codamol tablets from the managers drawer. Is this allowed?
AW - 16-Jan-17 @ 8:08 PM
Hi There , i started working for a company 6 months ago It was nerve wrecking getting through my intereview aand explaining my crimnal record past 20 yrs ago, i am not the person i once was and changed settled down and have a lovely family My past is my past My manager promise she would not tell any other person about this Now i am in tears as the staff all know about my prevouis convictions and trying to find away to bully me out of work
tee - 16-Jan-17 @ 11:28 AM
My manager disclosed personal medical and disability information in a reference. Is he allowed to share such sensitive information without my consent?
Boo - 11-Jan-17 @ 9:00 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:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Bak2it
    Re: Obligations of Employees
    Hi, last week I returned to work after being off since June 2017. I work at a school, based in a classroom used only by me. The…
    23 October 2017
  • JIMBO
    Re: Tips for Protecting Your Privacy
    I work in a govt department i have been mistreated at work and been signed off sick by the gp for a month on the first…
    21 October 2017
  • EmployeePrivacyRights
    Re: Privacy Laws at Work
    Kellie - Your Question:I have just found out my manager is spreading rumours at my work about me. like telling customers that I am off poorly…
    16 October 2017
  • Kellie
    Re: Privacy Laws at Work
    I have just found out my manager is spreading rumours at my work about me.... like telling customers that i am off poorly as im a drunk and…
    15 October 2017
  • PIP
    Re: Rumours About Sick Leave: Has My Privacy Been Invaded?
    i have been off work due to low mood and anxiety for 3 weeks, took a lot of effort to go back to…
    4 October 2017
  • EmployeePrivacyRights
    Re: Worker-Manager Confidentiality
    Sassy - Your Question:I was on a temporary contract and was verbally offered the job in that time another contractor contacted…
    3 October 2017
  • Jan78
    Re: Conflict Between Privacy and Freedom of Speech
    @Caroline - it depends upon whether you (as the person who overheard the conversation) wishes to report it…
    3 October 2017
  • Sassy
    Re: Worker-Manager Confidentiality
    I was on a temporary contract and was verbally offered the job in that time another contractor contacted me for an interview and…
    2 October 2017
  • Caroline
    Re: Conflict Between Privacy and Freedom of Speech
    I over heard my manager talk openly to two supervisors about an employee that has worked there for 17years.…
    2 October 2017
  • EmployeePrivacyRights
    Re: Contacting Employees in Their Homes
    Lady - Your Question:We have a whatsapp group page for work but we are getting messages early in the morning and late at…
    29 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the EmployeePrivacyRights website. Please read our Disclaimer.