US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was temporarily deleted last night, apparently by a Twitter employee on their last day at the company. The social media company is now investigating the incident. But what can companies do if an employee goes rogue?
Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson, employment law consultant for the ELAS Group believes that one of the easiest measures after an employee has resigned is to consider putting them on garden leave.
This means that they are not required to come in to work during their notice period, you can ask them to return all company property before they begin their leave, and you can remove access to any company databases and email systems that may be in place. This way they are not present and do not have access to do anything damaging. During a period of garden leave, an employee is still bound by the terms of their contract of employment so you still have some control over them, and can contact them during that time if necessary.
“This case raises an interesting and important question for employers – what can I do to protect my business when an employee is leaving? Fortunately there are things that you can do to make sure departing members of staff cause as little damage as possible.”
The only downside to garden leave is that the employee continues to receive their full salary during this time, so it may not be a completely desirable option as they are in effect doing nothing and getting full pay. You would need to weigh up the costs of any potential damage against the costs of their salary to see if it is ultimately a viable option, he says.
“If, however, the employee is being dismissed then an option would be to simply pay their notice period in lieu so, again, they don’t work during that time. It is best to have a clause in your contracts of employment which allow you to pay notice in lieu as it’s not strictly correct to do so without.”
Finally, when looking at employees who have access to sensitive data or the ability to cause significant damage to the business whilst carrying out their role, it may be a good idea to consider strong and robust confidentiality clauses in their contracts of employment, as well as including valid restrictive covenants, says Demeza-Wilkinson. It is important to be careful when including restrictive covenants in a contract of employment, as there are a number of criteria they need to fulfil to remain enforceable.
“A well-written restrictive covenant clause can offer significant protection for a business when an employee leaves. It should be noted that these should only be used where they are necessary. If you have covenants in place for everyone in the business then their impact is lost, and they may not even be enforceable if or when you need to rely on them.”