How good are your employment contracts?

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Don’t let exiting employees disclose confidential information or poach your clients

Employment contracts and internal policies are your business’s primary line of defence against employees disclosing confidential information or poaching your clients, contacts and employees.

In this article I will explain why a tightly-drafted up to date employment contract is so important to safeguarding a business and how an employment lawyer can help put this right if they are not.

Why is it so important?

Tightly-drafted appropriate post-termination restrictions can prevent an exiting employee from immediately working in direct competition with your business, stealing or disclosing trade secrets or poaching your key clients, contacts and staff, all of which could cause immeasurable damage to your business. In order to ensure the restrictions are enforceable these restrictions should be regularly reviewed to ensure they continue to be appropriate to the employee’s role and your business.

What about current employees?

It is not just exiting employees who can cause damage. It is also important to ensure current employees are properly restrained from leaking confidential information to third parties, being engaged in outside businesses and/or causing damage during their notice period. This can be done with the appropriate confidentiality and garden leave clauses in your employment contracts.

What can you do as a business?

The last couple of years has brought with it a barrage of developments and changes to employment law. Such changes have affected the way in which employers are required to handle their internal practices, manage their employees and resolve disputes in the workplace. For example, some of the particularly important areas of change include changes to holiday pay, anti-bribery legislation, pensions and family friendly policies. To help avoid potential liabilities for your business it is vital to ensure that your contracts and policies are compliant with current legislation and up to date with best practice.

So ask yourself:

  • When did you last review your employment contracts and policies? Was this over 6 – 12 months ago?
  • Are you confident that your policies and procedures are compliant with recent changes to employment legislation?
  • Do your contracts and policies protect your business from falling foul of anti-bribery legislation?
  • Is your business adequately protected from the risks posed by employees both during and after the end of the employment relationship? Is your confidential and proprietary information protected?
  • Do your sick leave provisions allow for the effective management of employees on long term sick or those taking frequent short term absences?
  • Are your discretionary bonuses really discretionary?
  • Do you have part-year or zero hours workers?

How can we help?

To help make sure that your employment contracts are tightly-drafted and up to date with the latest legal changes our specialist Employment team can undertake an audit of your contracts and policies for an agreed fixed fee. We will then report to you and provide recommendations on the areas we think require amendment or improvement.

For further information on the employment law services we provide or to discuss an audit please contact us on 01733 882800 or email [email protected].

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Hunt & Coombs LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales, Registration no. OC320243, VAT no. 120013160. Hunt & Coombs LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with Registration no. 443035. A list of members is available at 35 Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6AG.
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