As part of its ongoing inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee is to hold an evidence session into the use and possible abuse of non-disclosure agreements.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) is a catch-all term for agreements that include confidentiality clauses – sometimes referred to as gagging clauses – which prohibit the employee from discussing or in any way revealing the matters covered by the NDA. They are used in employment contracts for a range of purposes including, for example, protecting intellectual property, trade secrets or other confidential information such as customer details.
They are also commonly used in agreements that are reached between employers and employees when employment is terminated (known as settlement agreements).
However, there has also been criticism of their use in sexual harassment cases, with concerns that they may be used to conceal improper, discriminatory or even illegal behaviour or to impede reporting of such behaviour to the proper authorities.
Issues that the Committee will be particularly focusing on during their evidence session include:
- the benefits and risks of NDAs;
- the effect their use can have on those who sign them;
- the provision of advice to individuals signing NDAs;
- whistleblowing and enforceability;
- content and potential for abuse;
- ethics and regulation.
The Committee is also keen to hear witnesses’ suggestions for reforms to ensure that NDAs are not misused in cases where sexual harassment is alleged.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace and would like to find out more about your rights, then contact our specialist employment lawyers today.
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.