Employers are being urged to consider their procedures following calls from MPs to prevent employers using Non-Disclosure Agreements to silence employees in situations of unlawful treatment. The move follows the publication of a report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
A Non-Disclosure Agreement is a legal tool which, in an employment context, is often used on the termination of employment to prevent the former employee disclosing confidential information or making derogatory statements which may damage the reputation of the employer (it can also be used to bind the employer in the same way).
It is argued that Non-Disclosure Agreements are being misused by employers to prevent former employees disclosing information relating to mistreatment. In situations of discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying and abuse, a Non-Disclosure Agreement on termination of employment may dissuade or prevent employees from raising the issue or from seeking to enforce their employment rights. Any information not deemed illegal can be covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement, with legal action possible if breached.
There have been calls to ban such agreements being used to silence employees. This would prevent employees being subject to ‘gagging clauses’ and unable to seek to enforce rights.
Further proposals include an extension to the current three-month time period for bringing claims of sexual harassment/discrimination, to be doubled to six months.
For further information and assistance on Non-Disclosure Agreements, contact our Employment team.