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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47356
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I worked for a cleaning company for 6 years.left 3 months ago

Customer Question

I worked for a cleaning company for 6 years.left 3 months ago .1 of the offices I cleaned want me to take over the contract .i don't have my contract with the company I worked for ,but sure there be something in saying not to be able to work for this office .what would happen if they took me to court .and could they still take me to court if the office employed me dierect
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Are you asking if the old employer can sue you if you started working for one of their clients?

Customer:

Yes

Customer:

I don't have my contract with them ,so not sure if they can do this .the office has give them there 31 day notice .the company i worked for ECCS have said if it's me they take me to court

Ben Jones :

Have you asked for the contract you had with them?

Customer:

No as they would know what was up to .there not a nice company and bully the staff .so don't want to ask.i just want to know how much it might cost if they took me to court .also unw said they take me on as employee .so if that happen could they still take me to court

Ben Jones :

So what would the impact of you working for that company be on the old employer?

Customer:

Well they will lose the monthly bill what is about 1400 hundred a month I think.

Ben Jones :

But is that because of you joining them? Are they not cancelling their services anyway?

Customer:

No this is what ECCS will lose .unw are going to pay me 1000 month .i used to do there clean .then ECCS moved me somewhere else .and put new cleaner in unw .but they were never happy with the service they were getting .so asked me if I would take contract on ,which I was going to do ,so left ECCS three months ago and was going to start for unw on the 5 January ,eccs are not sure if it me taken on ,but if it is will take me to court ,just wanting to know wher I stand .

Ben Jones :

ok thanks let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

To be able to take you to court, the company would need to show that there was a specific restrictive covenant in your contract, which you have breached and which was reasonable and fair in the first place.

Post-termination restrictive covenants 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.

So if your new employer was unhappy with the service of your old employer anyway and they had decided to cancel their services as a result, if you subsequently left to work for them you are unlikely to be in breach because you did not facilitate this termination of their business. Also if they are taking you on as an employee you are not competing with the old employer, you are simply working for the new employer and again it is unlikely to be a breach of such a restriction.

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.

Customer:

So if my contracted stated I could not work for the office I was cleaning say 3 to six months would that say I breach my contract becauses it probable had something like that in it .when I started 6 years I was never interview,just phone call could I start that night .when I turned up I filled some forms in ,address bank details Ect ,but because it had to be quick as had the clean to do in a finished time .i was never sure what was in contract

Ben Jones :

Just because a clause like that may exist does not mean that it will be enforceable. There has to be a legitimate reason for it to be legally enforceable. They cannot just prevent you from working for the company if it will have no direct impact on them and even if there is an impact it has to be something linked to a legitimate business interest, for example if you approached the company behind their back and this resulted in the loss of their business

Ben Jones :

Does this clarify things for you?

Customer:

Yes I think so ,the boss of unw offered my the job ,when I was telling him that I was having to leave his office ,as they were moving me on.he said he didn't want me to leave as best cleaner he had.i also have that in a email he sent me.so he approached me he has said he thinks there trying to bully me .would I have to pay the clean who in that office cleaning one redundancy she has worked foe ECCS foe 6 years ,but only cleaned unw office for about 5 months ,she has other offices as well wiyh ECCSECCS

Ben Jones :

You do not have to pay anyone anything, you are not an employer so will not be responsible for any payments to anyone

Customer:

So if I took contract on ,I would not be responsible for the cleaner who's employedfrom ECCS who has been cleaning unw for about 6 months .i thought that you had to keep the same cleaner or pay them off

Ben Jones :

Hi, my earlier answer was on the assumption that you were taken on as an employee by the new employer. If you were to actually take over the full contract and work as self employed or a limited company, then you would need to keep all existing staff that are assigned on to that contract. So if you want to avoid having to do that then you need to be employed as an employee of the new company, not actually come in as your own separate company and take on the contract. Does this clarify things for you?

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer 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? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks

Customer:

Yes you can close the case thanks

Ben Jones :

ok thanks, ***** ***** best

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi that cleaning company I was going 2 work for I had to pull out,as they say the cleaners are covered by tupe .unw have cancelled the contract which end 31 St of December.when the cleaners turned up for work on 2nd of January,who both still work for old company Ecco and have several jobs .they were refused entry.but they have been told of eccs that they can take company to court.but unw have not gone with other cleaning company .were going to take me on there books .so not sure on the law here

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