York employment lawyer welcomes proposed changes to confidentiality clauses
David Scott, a Senior Associate who leads the employment law team at Hethertons Solicitors, has said that proposals to ban the use of certain clauses within non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should be welcomed but believes that confidentiality arrangements are still useful to businesses, and are here to stay.
The Government intends to introduce new legislation so that confidentiality agreements, such as NDAs, could not be used to prevent people reporting harassment, criminality or discrimination to the police or prevent people providing testimony during legal proceedings.
They would also make it a requirement that workers agreeing to confidentiality agreements receive support in order to access independent legal advice on the limitations of any agreements.
This extends to providing employees with a clear, written description of their rights before any documents are signed regarding confidentiality.
Exploring the proposals further, David Scott said that employees and employers across the region would welcome the news, but feels that the announcement may send out a confusing message about the continued use of such clauses.
“The proposals are still yet to be consulted on or approved by Parliament, but they do provide some clarity on the Government’s intentions when it comes to confidentiality clauses,” said David.
“But in many ways, these proposals are not new. They follow the already well-established practices that are followed by legal professionals. Guidance has also been issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).”
David added that whilst the changes might be seen as a good starting point, he warned that there was similar legislation on confidentiality clauses already on the horizon within European legislation.
He said: “What must be made clear at this point is that, despite this announcement, this is by no means an outright ban on confidentiality clauses.”
“NDAs and other forms of confidentiality agreements will, in many circumstances, still have a place in the modern work environment, including keeping settlement terms and commercially sensitive material private.”