There have been some high profile stories recently about the use of Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA) being used with redundancy and voluntary redundancy processes.
A recent BBC investigation found that universities in the UK had collectively spent £87m on 4000 settlement packages that had included an NDA and It emerged last year that over 800 departing Transport for London employees had signed NDAs as part of their severance packages.
The Government is running a consultation that closes on shortly titled: “Confidentiality clauses: measures to prevent misuse in situations of workplace harassment or discrimination.”
The basis of the consultation being “NDA’s serve a useful and legitimate purpose in the employment context, as part of both employment contracts and settlement agreements. However, a number of cases have come to light where employers have used confidentiality clauses to prevent victims of workplace harassment or discrimination from speaking out.
“The purpose of the consultation is to better understand how confidentiality clauses 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.”
The use of NDA’s as part of standard redundancy procedures appears to be increasing based on this evidence and breaking them is not without its risks. They are binding legal agreements and staff who sign them, whether for payment or as part of a redundancy arrangement, will be in breach of them if they speak out. This would technically leave them liable to be sued by their former employer although it’s debatable if any action would be enforced given the public climate and potential to attract more adverse publicity.
These are legal issues that Redundancy Assist doesn’t and wouldn’t advise on and anyone in a similar situation should seek qualified, independent legal advice before signing any agreements.