News and Events

Confidentiality Clauses - Proposals for Reform

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The government has issued a consultation document seeking views on new measures to prevent the misuse of non-disclosure agreements in situations of workplace harassment or discrimination.

Confidentiality clauses serve a useful purpose in the employment context. They can be used primarily in two ways: as part of employment contracts, to protect trade secrets for example, and as part of settlement agreements, for example to allow both sides of an employment dispute to move on with a clean break.

There are some limits on their use: mainly that confidentiality clauses are void if they purport to prevent someone making a protected disclosure, or taking a case to a tribunal (unless within a COT3 or settlement agreement).

The government is now consulting on further measures:-

  • legislating to ban confidentiality clauses which prevent a victim reporting or discussing potential criminal acts to/ with the police
  • ensuring any confidentiality clauses in employment contracts (as contrasted with settlement agreements) are included in the written statement of particulars of employment issued at the start of the employment relationship
  • requiring all confidentiality clauses to highlight the disclosures which confidentiality clauses do not prohibit, and making any confidentiality clauses which do not comply with this void in their entirety