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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44957
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have got a employment related question. I am working

Customer Question

Hi
I have got a employment related question.
I am working for an end client through an Agency. Now I have changed my employer and going to work for the same end client through the same agency.
Does it cause any legal issues for me ?
Thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Do you have any restrictions in your contract preventing this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, in my contract agreement it was stated not to work for the same client directly or through any other different employer.

However I was thinking as per the employment law one can not stop an employee to work for anybody or any client. My employer can ask end client not to hire me directly but he can not ask me. That was actually my understanding. Please advise

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your patience. There are certainly possibilities where an employer could prevent an employee from working for someone else or in competition with them. It is not necessarily easy to do but it can happen. What is important is that there must be a clear and reasonable restriction under which the employee is bound.
As far as post-termination restrictive covenants are concerned they are a rather common occurrence in employment relationships. An employer would want to protect their business from a departing employee's knowledge, business connections, influence over remaining staff, etc. However, a covenant that restricts an employee's post-termination activities will be automatically unenforceable for being in restraint of trade, unless the employer can show that it was there to protect a legitimate business interest and did so in a reasonable way.
Legitimate business interests (LBIs) are commonly accepted to include:
• Goodwill (including supplier and customer connections)
• Trade secrets and confidential information
• Stability of the workforce
An employer cannot apply a restrictive covenant just to stop someone competing with their business, but it can seek to stop that person using or damaging their LBIs by using a reasonably drafted covenant.
Non-competition covenants prevent an employee from working with a competing business or setting up to work in competition with their ex-employer. Such general restrictions are seen as a restraint of trade and will be difficult to enforce. They will only be seen as reasonable if in the process of working in competition, the employee uses trade secrets or sensitive confidential information belonging to their ex-employer, or their influence over clients is so great that such a restriction is necessary. The length of the restriction and its geographical coverage will also be relevant.
Whilst restrictive covenants are mainly used as a scare tactic by employers, if an employee has acted in breach of a covenant and the employer is intent on pursuing the matter further they can do so. The following are potential outcomes if the employer takes legal action:
• Obtain an interim injunction preventing the employee from doing certain things that would make them in breach of the restrictive covenant
• Seek compensation for damages that have directly resulted from the breach of the covenants
As you can see there are no hard and fast rules on restrictive covenants. Whether a specific restriction is enforceable will always depend on the individual circumstances, the interest being protected and whether it has been reasonably drafted. The above principles are what the courts will consider when deciding whether a restriction is going to be legally enforceable. It should give you a good idea of what to look for in your situation and decide what the chances of this being pursued further are.
Another side to this is where employment agencies have traditionally been eager to protect the revenue they get from supplying temporary workers to end user clients. They normally do so by including certain "restrictive covenants" or clauses within their contracts to either prevent a contractor from taking up direct employment with an end user, usually for the duration of the contract plus an extended period after termination, or which imposes a substantial fee if they do. The civil courts have on many occasions deliberated whether such "restrictive covenants" are fair and reasonable and there is still no single definitive answer.
Under UK and EU legislation there have been attempts to allow workers to seek employment wherever they choose, without restriction, thus removing any restraint of trade prohibitions. The most relevant piece of legislation in this respect is Regulation 10 of The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.
Where a temporary contract between an agency and an end user contains provisions to charge fees in a situation where the worker is taken on by the end user, it must now also provide the option of an "extended period of hire" where the end user client continues to pay the agency margin while engaging the worker directly (or through another agency).
Where there are provisions for the payment of a fee and/or an extended hire period, the Regulations state that they are unenforceable beyond 8 weeks from the termination of the contract (or, if longer, 14 weeks from the start of the contract).
So effectively this creates a situation where an end user client who wishes to employ a contractor directly (or transfer the contractor to another agency) will have 3 options:
1. Pay the transfer fee stipulated in the contract.
2. Pay the extended hire fee stipulated in the contract.
3. Terminate the contract (presumably with due notice) and wait for the specified 8 or 14 week period to end.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? If your query has been dealt with please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. If you need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you.

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