NDA update: Government announces new restrictions


After a recent report, the Government has announced new legislation to target misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements, especially those seeking to “cover up” harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Further to the Women and Equalities Committee’s critical report last month on the ‘cover-up’ culture in some workplaces, the Government has proposed new laws to “stamp out misuse” of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

The new legislation will prohibit NDAs that restrict employees from talking to the police, healthcare professionals and lawyers.

The updated laws will also require employers to be clearer about the limitations of confidentiality clauses. Current legislation will be extended so that employees who sign NDAs will get independent legal advice on those limitations.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said that the legislation targeted the “handful” of employers using NDAs to stop their staff from reporting criminal activity such as harassment, assault and discrimination. 

What will the new NDA laws mean for employers? ​

These changes are part of a bigger government response to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, which employers should bear in mind when looking at their confidentiality clauses.

  • Employers will have to make the limitations of their NDAs clearer to those signing them.
  • This means getting the information down in plain English (the Plain English campaign offers useful free guides).
  • Existing non-compliant NDAs may have to be modified. Those which prohibit employees from speaking to the police, legal professionals, or health and care professionals will have to be changed to comply.
  • Current NDAs should be made watertight. New enforcements mean that any NDAs not following these laws will be legally void

Will your non-disclosure agreements adhere to the updated legislation? ​

If you are a HR Manager or responsible for staff welfare, you should seek advice from an employment law specialist to ensure your non-disclosure agreements are compliant and fit for purpose.

More information

Pinney Talfourd is one of the leading employment law firms in Essex and London, recommended by Legal 500 UK. The team will be following these legislation changes closely to ensure our clients are always compliant.
We understand that it is a big job just to keep up with the latest changes in employment law and keep your contracts compliant with changes in legislation. For this reason, we offer an Employer Retainer Scheme. The scheme provides peace of mind that you will have unlimited access to our expert team as new legislation is introduced and also if any employment issues such as redundancy and related claims arise.
In addition, clients will also benefit from discounted rates for advice outside of the terms and conditions of the retainer scheme. Find out more here.

This article was written by Alex Pearce, Senior Associate in the Employment Law Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of August 2019.


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