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The Government has moved to allay fears that non-disclosure clauses (“NDAs”) in settlement agreements may be preventing access to justice for employees in the workplace.

The Government’s detailed response was published in response to the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee Report on ‘The Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in discrimination cases’.

What is an NDA?

NDAs are contractually-binding agreements (or clauses in other agreements, such as settlement agreements) which seek to prevent disclosure of certain information, such as:

  • an employer’s confidential information; and/or
  • the existence of a settlement agreement, the terms of the settlement agreement, and/or the circumstances giving rise to the use of the settlement agreement

The Committee’s Report

The Committee’s Report highlighted concerns that the use of NDAs in the workplace was preventing allegations of discrimination and harassment (and particularly sexual harassment) from being properly investigated and dealt with, and the effect that the use of NDAs has on some employees.

The Committee’s Report recommended that the Government should:

  • ensure that NDAs cannot prevent legitimate discussion of allegations of unlawful discrimination or harassment, and stop their use to cover up allegations of unlawful discrimination, while still protecting the rights of victims to be able to make the choice to move on with their lives;
  • require standard, plain English confidentiality, non-derogatory and similar clauses where these are used in settlement agreements, and ensure that such clauses are suitably specific about what information can and cannot be shared and with whom;
  • strengthen corporate governance requirements to require employers to meet their responsibilities to protect those they employ from discrimination and harassment; and
  • require named senior managers at board level or similar to oversee anti-discrimination and harassment policies and procedures and the use of NDAs in discrimination and harassment cases.

The Government’s Response

In its Response the Government confirmed that it will introduce new legislation to attempt to ‘crack down’ on the misuse of NDAs in the workplace, particularly when the use of the these NDAs seeks to prevent employees from making protected disclosures. The Government’s Response stopped short, however, of making it a criminal offence to propose the use of a confidentiality clause designed to prevent workers from making protected disclosures.

Our solicitors’ comments

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the Government’s Response: “This seems to be a reasonably measured response from the Government – although there are some circumstances in which settlement agreements or NDAs are arguably misused, adequate protections already exist to prevent employers from forcing employees not to ‘blow the whistle’. To this extent, the planned further legislation is superfluous.”

If you have any questions about settlement agreements or non-disclosure agreements then please contact our solicitors by calling us on 020 3397 3603 or emailing us.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

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    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Ade A

    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

    Posted 3 days ago

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    Anonymous

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    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

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    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 months ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 months ago

    ""

    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 months ago