Stafford MP, Jeremy Lefroy has welcomed the publication of a consultation on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and measures to prevent misuse of confidentiality clauses in situations of workplace harassment or discrimination.
Proposals set out in the consultation are designed to boost understanding amongst workers and employers of their rights and legal responsibilities and is part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy to create a fairer workplace.
Reforms proposed include:
- Legislating that confidentiality clauses cannot prevent any disclosure to the police
- Requiring a clear description of the limits of confidentiality provision with a written statement of particulars or within a settlement agreement
- Extending the requirement for workers to receive independent advice before signing a settlement agreement to cover the limits of any confidentiality clauses included in the settlement agreement
- Enforcing these measures though an Employment Tribunal or by voiding unlawful confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements.
Most businesses use NDAs and confidentiality clauses in agreements legitimately to prevent the disclosing of confidential information. In addition, Settlement Agreements are often utilised to help resolve workplace disputes without the need to escalate matters further. However, a minority abuse their power in the workplace to silence victims of harassment or discrimination through NDAs or confidentiality clauses.
Commenting, Jeremy said: “There is increasing evidence that NDAs and confidentiality clauses are being abused by a minority of employers to intimidate victims, conceal harassment and discrimination – including sexual assault, physical threats and racism. This is unacceptable. Today’s proposed reforms, if enacted, will help put an end to the unethical use of these agreements and encourage good practice from employers and lawyers. I would urge constituents to respond to the consultation to ensure their views are heard.”
The consultation period will run for eight weeks until 29 April 2019 and can be found on the gov.uk website.