Leaving Soon? - Employment Contract Issues

When you leave your job, you may expect that it is over and done with and that you no longer owe your former employer any obligations. However, this is not always the case. In order to protect their business, many employers include certain clauses in employment contracts that come into effect after your employment with them is terminated. These are known as ‘restrictive covenants’ and are post-termination obligations you owe to your former employer.

Restrictive covenants

There are four main types of restrictive covenant that are found in employment contracts:

Non-compete clauses – These clauses are intended to prevent former employees from directly competing with their former employers, either by forming a new competing company or by working for a competitor. The clauses usually restrict the employer from competing within a certain geographical location and for a specified time.

Non-solicitation clauses – These clauses prevent former employees from soliciting their former employer’s customers. They usually prevent the employee from entering into a contract to supply or receive goods or services with customers of the employer for a limited period of time.

Non-poaching of employee clauses – These clauses are intended to prevent former employees from encouraging their former colleagues to leave their employer and work for them instead.

Restricted use of confidential information clauses – These clauses prevent the employee from using or repeating confidential information they were privy to when they worked for their former employer.

Your employer must ensure that these clauses in your contract of employment are reasonable and are only there to protect their legitimate business interests.

Notice

Your contract of employment should set out how much notice you are required to give your employer of your intention to leave. Your employer may require you to leave immediately and not work out your notice, especially if your job involves handling confidential information. Your employer may be obligated to pay you in lieu of notice if this is the case. Your employment contract should contain the details of payment in lieu of notice.

Failure by you to give the correct notice will constitute a breach of contract, and your employer could take action. However, if your employer does not pay you in lieu of notice as per your employment contract, you may have a breach of contract claim against them.

Some contracts of employment will contain a ‘gardening leave’ clause. Gardening leave means that the employee is not required to go into work for the duration of their notice period. They are still an employee of their employer and still have the same rights, and it means the employer can delay the employee from working for a competitor.

Job Justice can help

If you believe your employment contract contains unfair clauses that will restrict, or are restricting, your actions after the termination of your employment, Job Justice can help.

In addition, if you are facing legal action from a previous employer over an alleged breach of your employment contract, we can be of assistance by getting you the legal advice you need.

We can put you in touch with one of our specialist employment solicitors. Simply call us for free on 0800 533 5799 or fill in our online contact form and we’ll be in touch to discuss your situation.

 

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