The Federal Trade Commission says around 30 million Americans have non-compete agreements. These arrangements are common to protect a company’s interests.
They are usually part of work contracts and tell employees what they can and cannot do after they leave employment. It is imperative that employees understand their responsibilities under the agreement.
The basis of a non-compete agreement is the employee promising to not take actions that would be in competition with their employer after they leave the job. The goal is to protect the company’s proprietary information. It allows the employer to ensure the employee does not go to a competitor and share information that could damage its ability to make sales, maintain customers and protect its trade secrets.
This type of agreement also requires employees to agree they will not try to take customers or other employees from the employer. The idea is to safeguard against someone using their position at the company to assist a competitor with acquiring customers or workers.
Non-compete agreements also often provide a restriction on taking new employment within the same industry. Employees may also have limitations on working in the same geographic location. Typically, these rules impose a specific time limit in which the employee cannot take certain actions to allow for distancing between his or her employment with the company and a new employer.
A non-compete agreement offers protection to employers to avoid nefarious actions by former employees that could impact their bottom line. However, it is voluntary. If someone does not agree with the terms, they can refuse to sign the agreement and not take the job.