Employees are to receive better protection from the misuse of gagging orders under new government proposals. The new legislation will ensure that workers cannot be prohibited from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination regardless of whether they have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

Last year B P Collins’ employment lawyer Hannah King was interviewed in the CIPD’s People Management magazine on the issue where she commented:

“It has become common in many industries when reaching a financial arrangement with an employee who may have made allegations of sexual harassment against the employer, and who can bring a legal claim, to ask them to enter into a settlement agreement.

“This agreement means that the employee cannot then pursue a tribunal claim against the company relating to those matters. It is common as part of those terms of the settlement agreement to include a confidentiality clause – and sometimes a ‘non-bad mouthing’ clause.

“Banning such clauses may well have the desired effect on increasing transparency inside organisations. 

“By not allowing companies to ‘gag’ their current or former employees about harassment, this could encourage employees to come forward and might actually lead to employers being able to identify issues earlier on that need to be addressed before the situation deteriorates and becomes unsalvageable.”

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