When an establishment needs the services of a general contractor, the ideal scenario is for the business to remain closed while the work is performed. However, a business doesn’t always have this luxury. For example, a doctor’s office or hospital can’t close while simple repairs are made. When situations like this arise, safeguards should be put in place to protect confidential information.
A business might approach the contractor with a confidentiality agreement, and if that happens, as a contractor, you should sign and abide by it so long as it’s reasonable and doesn’t prevent you from completing your job. But if you want to be proactive, you can have your own confidentiality agreement and present it to your customers.
Why Is a Confidentiality Agreement Necessary?
Some businesses handle sensitive information about their customers and legally, it should be protected. Hospitals, medical practices, law firms, even schools – all have strict regulations regarding protecting the personal information of patients, clients, and students, respectively. If the information were to be leaked or even overheard by someone and passed along to a third party, the business could face serious legal consequences.
So, if you need to get behind a filing cabinet in the file room and the office manager seems cagey about you being in that room, or if they’re carefully hovering around while you move the office equipment out of the way, that’s why. They don’t want to get sued, fired or both.
What Does a Confidentiality Agreement Say?
Simply put, the agreement states that you agree not to repeat anything you hear and recount anything you see while you’re working in the office. If there is a breach and it can be traced back to either something you said or did or the actions you took while working at the office led to a breach, you will be held legally responsible.
Let’s go back to the filing cabinet from earlier. Let’s say you move the cabinet and a file falls off the top of the cabinet and lands on the floor. Several papers fall out of the file. As you pick up the papers, you notice that the file is for your next-door-neighbor and it details a medical issue your neighbor might not want anyone know he has.
You might hate the dude and be tempted to tell everyone you know about what you saw, or he might be your best friend and you’re concerned and want to lend him your support. Either way, you can’t mention what you saw to anyone. Otherwise, you’re setting the office up for a lawsuit and fines and putting a target on your own back as well. As difficult as it might be, you’ll have to keep that information to yourself.
Why Provide One Voluntarily?
Let’s say you’re going out to bid on a contract for a hospital. The work is for the Emergency Room, and it’s going to still be operational while the work is being completed. Offering your own confidentiality agreement might give you an edge over other contractors who didn’t think to offer one.
Or maybe you’re going to work on someone’s deck. A confidentiality clause might make a homeowner more comfortable with you being in their home. That way, if you witness something such as a fight or even an expensive china collection, you cannot speak of it to others. In other words, the agreement makes you seem more professional than your competitors, and that’s never a bad thing.
Have you ever signed a confidentiality agreement before starting a job?