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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44958
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I had to approach my employer (civil service) as my daughter

Customer Question

I had to approach my employer (civil service) as my daughter was ill and I needed substantial time off to care for her. I approached my line manager (Mike) and he told me he would need authourisation from his manager to get the time off. Later that day my managers manager phoned me to OK the leave and wish me well. A few weeks later I was presenting at works conference and another junior manager, not connected with my line management took me to one side and said 'Mikes been telling me about all the problems with your daughter, it must be terrible for you.....please let me know if I can do anything to help'.

I am outraged that my privacy has breached in this way, but can I do anything about this breach of privacy?.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. have you asked you line manager about the incident with the junior manager

JACUSTOMER-xeqk8x86- :

No

Ben Jones :

ok thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. It must be upsetting to know that your family’s private business is being discussed between work colleagues and you do have the expectation to have such information being kept confidential, even if you did not specifically ask for it to be treated confidentially.

There is no standalone action for breach of privacy under UK laws and instead you will have to see if you can pursue this through other avenues.

A common protection in breach of personal information is data protection legislation, however this is not going to be a data protection issue as it did not concern personal data that was stored in a filing system, rather it was something that was communicated verbally between you and the employer and then between the managers in question. As such the formal rules of the Data Protection Act will not apply.

The most likely protection would be through the implied term of mutual trust and confidence that is implied into every employment relationship and which is owed by the employer to the employee and vice versa. It means that the parties should do all that is necessary to preserve such mutual trust and confidence and not breach it or jeopardise it in any way.

In your case, you provided the information under implied confidence because no one would reasonably expect their employer to share such sensitive details with others that do not need it and are not involved in the reason for you disclosing it in the first place. By going behind your back and gossiping about it, the employer may have breached that implied term of trust and you could seek to take the matter further. Whilst there is no claim for compensation you can just make in this case, it does allow you to raise a formal grievance with the employer, which could result in disciplinary action if the person that spread the information is found guilty.

However, in terms of going further than a grievance, all you can do is resign and make a claim for constructive dismissal by arguing you can no longer work there because of this, although as you can imagine it is a rather drastic move so don’t just jump for that and consider your options carefully.

Ben Jones :

Hello again, please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello Keith, please let me know if I have answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thank you

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