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Non-disclosure agreements: Secrets at work?

Who should attend

HR and in-house lawyers who advise on employment disputes, confidentiality and privacy issues.


A non-disclosure agreement is designed to keep confidences but it is not signed in secret. HR, leaders and legal advisors know about them and so do the people involved. NDAs can be used to protect proprietary information and IP. They can be a useful tool for all sides in a dispute, preventing long-running, painful and costly battles and enabling swift settlement. Incorrectly or improperly drafted, they may reflect a power imbalance between an employer and an employee.

They are controversial when perceived to silence allegations of serious misconduct like harassment and unlawful if they silence whistleblowers.

Media fury over ‘gagging clauses’ has put added pressure on the Government to act and they have promised to consult on their use. This briefing will update you on the legitimate use of secrecy and confidentiality at work. We provide a reminder on how privilege arises and is preserved and the tension between the public interest and privacy.


09.00 registration and coffee, 09.30 start

Ending an employment relationship

  • reminder of implied and express contractual terms
  • pre-termination negotiations (‘protected conversations’) and ‘without prejudice’ discussions: limitations and extent
  • fair process (alternative options?)
  • consistency of treatment, respect and dignity

Settlement alternatives to court

  • use of COT 3 (ACAS conciliation)
  • reaching a fair compromise: can there be undue pressure when independent legal advice is provided?
  • public and private sector differences

Types of silence

  • IP, confidential, or proprietary information
  • payment for confidentiality: selling silence?
  • compromising harassment
  • public interest vs confidentiality
  • personal disagreements: ‘he said she said’

Use of privilege in employment disputes

  • establishing and preserving privilege
  • X vs Y and ENRC judgments

New developments

  • Women’s & Equalities Select Committee report and recommendations
  • NDAs/confidentiality clauses: expect greater scrutiny
  • SRA and solicitor professional standards
  • privacy injunctions in the employment context
  • human rights considerations

Handling allegations of serious misconduct

  • refute or suppress?
  • when payment is interpreted as guilt
  • references: what can be said?

13.00 close, followed by lunch

Download the full Using non-disclosure agreements programme

employee investigations training


Helen Rice-Birchall
Principal Associate
Helen advises on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment law. She has worked closely with organisations like the CBI and Acas on policy development. Helen sits as an Employment Judge in the Manchester region.

Jug Sahota
Senior Advisor, Conciliator and D&I Specialist
Jug has thirty years of experience dealing with employment tribunals, mainstreaming equalities and as a mediator working to resolve workplace disputes.

Cost: £275

All prices are exclusive of VAT

Group discount:

10% discount for delegate 2 and subsequent delegates.

Online payment discount: 5%

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