Q: How can I stop my employees joining competitors and taking confidential information with them?
A: Leaving to go to a competitor is the most difficult aspect to place a reasonable restriction on. The courts frequently find them unenforceable on the basis that it is unreasonable to prevent someone from making a living.
The two key points to be satisfied are that any restriction protects a legitimate business interest and it goes no further than reasonably necessary. The most common types of legitimate business interests are
? Customer connections
? Trade secrets or confidential information
? A stable workforce
Once you have established a legitimate business interest you must be able to show that your restriction does not go further than necessary. For example you should not put in a world wide restriction if your work is only in the Thames Valley.
Taking key information can be covered by a carefully constructed and specific confidentiality clause which explains what information is considered confidential and should be in all contracts regardless of job title.
It is also advisable to have restrictions which cover the following
? Prohibiting the solicitation of clients
? Prohibiting dealing with clients
? Prohibiting the ex employee from soliciting former colleagues to work for a new employer.
My recommendation overall is that these clauses should be tailored to the job title so that they are likely to be relevant and specific and to remind employees that they are restricted by these clauses when they leave. You could also consider using a period of garden leave to stop them working elsewhere immediately and therefore having use of current confidential information.