Last week we issued an alert about the UK government’s plans to introduce new legislation to tackle alleged misuse of confidentiality clauses in employment contracts and settlement agreements. The consultation has been launched primarily in response to concerns that some employers are using confidentiality clauses (sometimes referred to as “non-disclosure agreements”) to “gag” victims of workplace harassment or discrimination, in particular via settlement agreements. You may recall that last year the Women and Equalities Select Committee raised concerns about this in its inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
The consultation asks:
- Whether there should be more limitations on confidentiality clauses in the employment context to make it easier for workers and their advisers to understand when they are permitted in law to make a disclosure to the police or other people despite the existence of a confidentiality clause;
- How to ensure workers are clear about the rights they retain when they sign a confidentiality clause or start work for a new employer; and
- How to enforce any new regulations on confidentiality clauses.