New rules on non-disclosure agreements have been unveiled by the Government.
The Government has announced a tightening up of rules around non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses.
The changes include enshrining in law that individuals cannot be prevented from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination to the police; requiring a clear, written description of rights before anything is signed in confidentiality clauses in employment contracts or within a settlement agreement; extending the law that means a worker agreeing to a settlement agreement receives independent advice; and providing advice on the limits of confidentiality clauses in the settlement agreement.
NDAs have come to the fore in recent months due to a focus on how some are being used to intimidate whistleblowers, conceal harassment and discrimination incidents – including sexual assault, physical threats and racism.
The Government’s proposed changes include:
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Sexual harassment is against the law and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated – in the home, the workplace or in public.
“Over the past couple of years, we have seen brave individuals breaking silence on such behaviour, but too many are still facing the unethical misuse of non-disclosure agreements by their employers.
“We’re sending a clear message that a change in the law is needed to ensure workers are able to come forward, be aware of their rights and receive the advice they need before signing up to them.”
However, the changes have been criticised by experts as not going far enough. Maria Miller, the chair of the work and equalities select committee, warned that they were at risk of “not going far enough” if they “simply reiterate the existing law” and fail to tackle non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) being used to cover up discrimination.