Employers and employees may want to enter confidentiality agreements for many reasons. You may be asked to sign one before starting a project to stop business secrets and sensitive information from being leaked. Confidentiality clauses are also often contained in settlement agreements, this allows the employer and worker to resolve a dispute confidentially without going to court.
However, recent high-profile cases, often involving sexual harassment claims, have led to fears that non-disclosure agreements may be used to ‘gag’ people and cover up discrimination and harassment. There are concerns that victims may think they are unable to report their experiences due to a non-disclosure agreement. However, a confidentiality clause cannot stop you from reporting a crime to the police; talking to a regulator about issues between you and your employer or someone at work; or whistleblowing in the public interest. Whistleblowing, however, is a very complex area of law and so you should always contact a solicitor to review your individual case.
If your employer asks you to sign a confidentiality agreement you should always get independent legal advice in order to fully understand what you are agreeing to, as the agreement will be legally binding. A solicitor can read through the agreement and advise you on what affect the agreement will have and any changes you should request. You should always ask for a copy so you have a record of what you have agreed to. Some employers will agree to pay for employees’ legal advice, as an agreement may not be legally binding if both parties have not had reasonable time to think about the confidentiality clauses or get legal advice.
If you have any issues with the agreement, you should raise them before signing, however if you have already signed and are unhappy with the terms, contact a solicitor to see what your options are.
At Kleyman & Co, we can help both employees with drafting their non-disclosure agreements to be compliant with the law and protect their companies’ information, and employees with what they should agree to and what non-disclosure agreements can and cannot prevent them from doing. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 887 8740 to arrange a free initial chat.
Kleyman & Co solicitors. The full-service law firm. Don’t keep us a secret!