Danny McCance 11 Feb 2019 11:11am

Government to review confidentiality agreements

The UK minister for women and equalities, Penny Mordaunt, has promised a consultation on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in business

Mordaunt said the consultation will examine whether there should be limitations on the use of confidentiality agreements and will speak to those affected. It will also investigate what else needs to be done to make worker’s rights clear to them.

“I want to hear from everyone who has experienced [confidentiality agreements’] use in the workplace,” Mordaunt wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

“I want to see good practice, but I particularly want to know when they have been used badly to intimidate and to cover up sexual harassment or discrimination.”

Mordaunt was responding, in part, to the recent allegations of sexual harassment and bullying by Sir Philip Green. It is alleged the retail tycoon regularly used non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and £1m in payouts to silence employees who were victims of his behaviour.

On Friday, an injunction obtained by Green to prevent the Telegraph reporting on his use of NDAs was lifted by the High Court, the newspaper reported.

“Confidentiality agreements are designed to provide businesses with a legal framework that allows goods practice and trust, what they cannot do is conceal illegal activity,” Mordaunt wrote.

She stated that victims of criminality at work “cannot be bound by confidentiality agreement from reporting this to the police,” and added that it is extremely important to protect the most vulnerable people in the workplace.

In December, the government announced a package of commitments regards to workplace sexual harassment, including a new statutory code of practice and investigations into NDAs.

However, it was criticised as it came five months after the Women and Equalities Committee’ initial report into sexual harassment in the work place.