What Is a Non-Compete Agreement, and Is It Enforceable in the UK?
You might have seen a non-compete agreement in your new-hire paperwork. Maybe you're concerned about what it is and whether UK laws honour it. Here's some helpful information about such agreements:
What Are Non-Compete Agreements?
Non-compete agreements are special restrictions with legal jargon that disallow workers from competing with a business during, and sometimes a period after, employment.
Employers typically use them to protect their businesses and not to harm their onboarding employees. They usually state terms regarding confidential information, trade secrets, interference, and competitors.
Many of them ask that their employees avoid working for competitors, sharing the company's confidential information, or opening businesses that compete with their employer directly. Normally, employees would avoid doing those things out of general respect. However, sometimes workers might do them without realizing it, and thus, the contract outlines the employer's desires thoroughly.
Are Non-Compete Agreements Necessary?
It's up to each company or business to decide whether such agreements are necessary. In some regions, they have a right to require an onboarding employee to sign them if they would like to continue their employment.
Does the UK Enforce Non-Compete Agreements?
The UK is more lenient towards workers when dealing with non-compete clauses. Employers can include them, and workers can sign them, but that doesn't mean they will be held up in court. The employers must prove that the workers threaten a legitimate business interest, and the non-complete clause is reasonably necessary.
The court will examine multiple factors, including the workers' "questionable activities" and the company's type of business. It will handle each case individually and may decide a different fate for two similar situations.
That said, you should ensure that you read your agreement thoroughly before signing it. Do not sign it if you don't believe you can abide by the restrictions for the specified period.