Non Disclosure Agreements – How To Use Them Correctly What Exactly Are Non Disclosure Agreements?
Non disclosure agreements. On paper, these
legally binding documents are used on a daily basis when employees start new jobs. They’re used when people visit your workplace, work on a top secret project, or are in contact with sensitive information. Businesses use them to protect their company practices and other sensitive information away from competitors. However, in recent years, non disclosure agreements have been utilised in a much more sinister fashion.
Non disclosure agreements are being utilised to manipulate
discriminated and abused employees. They’ve become gagging clauses for unscrupulous business owners and enable employers to blackmail employees into keeping quiet in exchange for salaries, bonuses and being able to leave the company quietly. Not exactly what employment tribunals were created for, is it?
In 2019, several MP’s spoke out against the
unfair nature of these clauses and how they believe they should be used. “Non-disclosure agreements should not prevent employees from discussing allegations of discrimination and harassment with other staff. Any new laws governing their use should still protect victims’ right to “move on with their lives.” So, What Should Change?
This is the summary from the report, created by The Women & Equalities Committee of the House of Commons.
A consultation into banning the use of confidentiality clauses in covering up workplace harassment and discrimination closed in the spring of 2019and the committee called for
tighter controls to prevent inappropriate and unlawful behaviour.
new legislation ensuring that non disclosure agreements cannot prevent “legitimate discussion” of allegations among employees. This would allow staff to gather evidence to support claims of harassment or discrimination. using standard ‘plain English’ in confidentiality clauses. Especially in settlement agreements. These clauses must also specify what information cannot be shared with outside sources. strengthening corporate governance requirements to make sure employers meet their responsibilities to protect staff from discrimination and harassment. organisations naming a senior manager at board level to oversee anti-discrimination and harassment policies and procedures and the use of non disclosure agreements. increasing compensation for victims, to encourage organisations to tackle harassment increasing the time limit for bringing a claim to an employment tribunal from three months to six months, and requiring employers to pay the costs employees encounter when seeking legal advice. Why Discuss These Changes?
Sir Philip Green allegedly used non disclosure agreements to stop employees
speaking out about bullying and discrimination. This has prompted ministers to tighten the rules around their use.
Maria Miller, the Conservative former culture secretary who chaired the committee, said: “It is particularly worrying. Employers are using these secrecy clauses to cover up discrimination in exchange for things they need to provide. Things such as references and remedial action to tackle discrimination.
“After signing an NDA, many individuals find it difficult to work in the same sector again. Some suffer emotional and psychological damage as a result of their experiences. This can also affect their ability to work and move on.”
How Can ELAS Help Your Business?
So, how do you stop a workplace disagreement from escalating to where a tribunal or non disclosure agreement is needed? If you’re a UK business owner, it’s now more important than ever before to ensure that your business is protected. That’s what we’re here to do. At the ELAS Group we offer
unbeatable employment law support for businesses just like yours.
For every single one of our clients, we’re not a service provider, we’re an additional part of their business. Our employment law experts work hand in hand with your management team, saving you time and money. In fact, many of our clients forego any kind of internal HR team, relying on our team to support them. In turn, this saves them £1,000’s per year. Where else can you get a
full service HR team at a fraction of the cost of just one full time member of staff? Call our team on 08450 50 40 60 or complete the contact form to get a free consultation with one of our employment law experts today!