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Non-disclosure agreements consultation

Non-disclosure agreements consultation

New rules to regulate – but not ban - the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have been published.

A consultation is seeking to better understand how confidentiality clauses (also known as NDAs) and the legal framework around them work in practice, and to assess what changes are required to ensure individuals are appropriately protected from their misuse. Responses are required by 29 April.

The consultation looks at:

  • whether there should be more limitations on confidentiality clauses in the employment context, to make it easier for workers and their advisers to understand when they are permitted in law to make a disclosure to the police or other people despite the existence of a confidentiality clause
  • how to ensure workers are clear about the rights they maintain when they sign a confidentiality clause or start work for a new employer, and
  • how to enforce any new regulations on confidentiality clauses

The government’s proposals ‘will help put an end to the unethical use of these agreements and encourage good practice from employers and lawyers’. They include:

  • clarifying in law that confidentiality clauses cannot prevent people from speaking to the police and reporting a crime (or prevent the disclosure of information in any criminal proceedings)
  • 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; the advice must cover the limits of any confidentiality clauses in the settlement agreement, so a person is in full possession of all the relevant facts