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ACAS issues guidance on use of non-disclosure agreements

Acas has published new guidance on non-disclosure agreements in February 2020 to help employers and workers understand what NDAs are and how to prevent their misuse.

This guidance follows guidance released by The Equality and Human Rights Commission on the use of confidentiality agreements (often referred to as NDAs) in discrimination cases in October 2019.

The new guidance makes it clear that NDAs cannot be used to prevent the reporting of discrimination or sexual harassment at work or to the police, 'whistleblowing' (workers who expose wrongdoing in the workplace) or disclosing a future act of discrimination or harassment.

The guidance covers:

●      what non-disclosure agreements are

●      when non-disclosure agreements might be used appropriately

●      when non-disclosure agreements might be inappropriate because they are unlawful or raise serious moral or ethical issues, for example because they are misleading, cover up wrongdoing or have been entered into under pressure so that they are not genuinely voluntary

●      that non-disclosure agreements should not be used as a default option

●      how to change and improve workplace practices around non-disclosure agreements so that they are never entered into as a matter of routine.

Acas Chief Executive Susan Clews said:

"The news has reported on victims coming forward that have alleged appalling abuse by high-profile figures who have then tried to use NDAs to silence whistleblowers.

"NDAs can be used legitimately in some situations but they should not be used routinely or to prevent someone from reporting sexual harassment, discrimination or whistleblowing at work.

"Our new advice can help employers and their staff understand what NDAs are, how to prevent their misuse and examples where they will not be needed."

Employers are reminded that anyone involved with these types of agreements should be well trained in using them and all businesses and organisations should have a clear and consistent policy regarding NDAs that is regularly reviewed and reported on.

Posted on 4 March, 2020 by Ortolan

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