Employment Law – Confidentiality / Conflict of interests

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  • Employment Law – Confidentiality / Conflict of interests
  • nomdeguerre
    Member

    Hoping I can pull some info from the collective psyche of the Singletrackworld Forum

    I am currently working my notice having quit around a month ago.
    I am leaving my present employer to join one of our customers. Obviously this has ruffled a few feathers and I am now being asked to sign an additional Confidentiality Agreement / conflict of interests document which would be supplemental to my existing contract of employment.
    When I joined the company I signed a contract of employment which had a specific section on confidentiality which I am more than happy comply with.

    So to my question, as this is a change to my existing contract, do I need to sign it and if I refuse what are the likely outcomes. My ( non lawyer ) view is that a change to contract shouldn’t be able to be enforced post notice being accepted, especially as confidentiality is covered in the original contract.

    The document is relatively generic and uses phrases such as ‘including but not limited to’, there is no specific ‘secrets’ detailed in the document.

    So what do you think?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t sign. What benefit to you would there be in doing so?

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    What happens if you don’t sign it?

    If anything was that important a secret, they should have put you on gardening leave, surely?

    Papa_Lazarou
    Member

    I wouldn’t sign it….what can they do?

    You have already (I assume) met all the requirements of your existing contract in terms of confidentiality and notice of leave, so can’t see how they could force this on you now. AND, it may force their hand and ask you to go on gardening leave until your notice period ends.

    BTW – I’m not a lawyer, but have (limited) experience of arranging new contracts.

    mcobie
    Member

    I’d be looking for professional advice. Mention the Big Red Button and they’ll sort you out with minimal cost (I am not connected to this company but have used them in the past myself).

    Junkyard
    Member

    what flashy says

    If you refuse to sign they could sack you- this would take months and this could be illegal anyway. Basically they can do nothing

    if they wish to change this at this stage then they need to pay IMHO
    they cannot make you sign a new contract

    nealglover
    Member

    Ask them what’s in it for you.

    Genuine question, why would you sign it if there is no benefit to you. Or no downside if you chose not to sign it.

    If they don’t have any sensible answer, then don’t sign it.

    johndoh
    Member

    So they are trying to have you sign a supplemental contract because they have realised the original contract doesn’t cover what it should?

    I would tell them to jog on, and if you are concerned, speak to your new employers and explain the situation and to ask if there is anything they can do to help advise you.

    nomdeguerre
    Member

    To be honest, that’s my point, I don’t see what benefit there is to me in signing, it is written in legalese and seems to protect them but does very little to protect me.

    My view is that
    a) if my job is that secretive why am I still here and not tending the garden?
    b) why is this not a standard document that has been pushed through to all employees based on ‘best practice’?

    From my point of view I am happy to email them referring to the confidentiality sections in my contract and that I am than aware of my responsibilities post employment and happy to abide by these agreements.
    The cover letter from them actually makes reference to this as well.

    patriotpro
    Member

    CaptainFlashheart – Member
    If anything was that important a secret, they should have put you on gardening leave, surely?

    ^This^ Shutting garden gate after the dog ran out n all that. Tell them to bollox, in a professional manner of course…

    johndoh
    Member

    why is this not a standard document that has been pushed through to all employees based on ‘best practice’?

    Very good point – it cannot possibly be legal to ask one employee to sign a new contract if others aren’t been asked the same.

    And – isn’t it against the law to sack someone (other than for gross misconduct) after they have handed in their notice?

    poly
    Member

    Sounds odd to me. We’ve had employees leave in that sort of situation and we just ask them to sign to confirm receipt of a letter that reminds them (in plain english) the existing clauses in their contract.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    Tell them you’ve asked your new employer if they can get their lawyers to look at it? (if you want to stir things up)

    If you just want to leave quietly (which is probably the best/right thing to do) then just politely refuse saying that you believe your original contract of employment gave both parties sufficient rights and that you will behave in a legal and honourable way in your new employment.

    cbmotorsport
    Member

    Don’t sign, you have given them notice that you will be ending your contract of employment with them. It’s a bit late for them to start making changes to that contract now.

    If you’re working out your notice you may find they put you on gardening leave if you don’t sign.

    Premier Icon piedi di formaggio
    Subscriber

    How much notice do you have left to ‘serve’?

    Is there something in your existing contract about changes to that contract and process to be followed?

    Premier Icon nano
    Subscriber

    Another +1 for Captain Flash

    It seems as if they aren’t sure themselves what you could potentially reveal so this could just be an attempt to cover the arses in the unlikely event of you saying something you shouldn’t.

    I would ask them to be specific before you would be prepared to sign anything; chances are they won’t be able to. In which case the pointless nature of the document is clear.

    I was ‘told’ that I wouldn’t be able to hire any of my old team when I left a former employer (gardening leave followed by notice period) for at least six months. Complete nonsense, but it made them feel better at the time.

    patriotpro
    Member

    You could always blackmail them

    SixFootTwo
    Member

    PM me if you want to chat through any bits and bobs.

    OK my Head of HR professional advice. Your company are concerned, they want to reinforce the confidentiality agreement. You should ask yourself the following

    1 Would signing this compromise you in a professional capacity in any way or limit your ability to carry out your job, and I mean in reality not in a “can i find a really unlikely scenario where it would cause an issue”.

    2 Is the meaning of the supplementary doc dramatically and explicitly different to your employment contract? I am going to guess no but it may be more thoroughly worded with the same meaning.

    If the answer to the above is a “no” I would sign it and give them the reassurance they are looking for as a happy ex-employer may some day be of use to you. Your soon to be ex employers are just looking for some assurance that you are not passing on pricing info and intellectual property that may render them redundant to your new employer.

    Confidentiality agreements are very hard to enforce unless you very deliberately and overtly break them and leave an audit trail of evidence on email or documents behind you.

    Do you have to sign it, of course not, but if it’s not a big deal then I would and I would say something along the lines of “My integrity is assured but I understand your concerns so am happy to agree to these terms”.

    If you have a good reason not to sign it I would go with “given the commitment I made to confidentiality/non-compete when I signed my employment contract I think you (the company) have sufficient legal recourse should anything untoward happen, however I can assure that you will not happen as I am a professional/mountain biker and our word is our bond” You may not need the last bit about mtbrs.

    In addition your role may have changed since you were initially hired and you may have access to customer pricing and unique ip that they did not envision at the beginning and they may be concerned that revenue or additional work will come under threat.

    I would be surprised if there was not a clause about going to work for clients in your contract or that they don’t have a clause in place in the customer contract to stop you going directly (they’re daft if they don’t) or they may have waived that with the client for the ake of goodwill.

    scrumfled
    Member

    Company employs you and contracts the conditions you have to abide by to achieve a level of recompense.

    If they’ve failled to keep track of conditions, I’d be saying “Im more than happy to abide by my existing contractual conditions, if you wish to secure new additional conditions Im open to negotiate”.

    ….or if you cant be arsed and cant see anything sticky in the new doc, just sign it.

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