Noncompete and nondisclosure agreements are becoming more commonplace in today’s job market. As industries become more technology-oriented, employers are seeking to protect both their technical and intellectual properties. Part of finding a job could come down to whether or not you are willing to sign one of these agreements.
What’s the Difference
A standard non-compete agreement prevents you from directly competing with your employer for a specific amount of time. Some agreements also limit this non-competition to geographical areas. They prevent you from starting your own business that directly competes with them and/or going to work for a direct competitor.
A nondisclosure agreement, on the other hand, means that you will not disclose proprietary or confidential information to others. It does not limit you from working for a competitor or starting your own business, but it does mean you can’t use information you have learned or obtained from the company.
Should You Sign?
If you are presented with either of these agreements, you should review them carefully. Keep in mind that, like any agreement, you can try to negotiate their terms. Ensure that the terms are reasonable and that you are willing to uphold your side of the agreement.
For instance, signing an agreement barring you from working for a competitor for an indefinite period of time is unreasonable. In this instance, you could request that a time period be added to the agreement. It would also be unreasonable for a “local” company to ask you not to work for a competitor if they are not geographically a threat to them.
With all of this in mind, if an agreement is reasonable, it is legally binding and could be upheld in a court of law. If you plan to stay in the same field for the foreseeable future, you’ll want to be especially careful.
Seek your own legal advice, and if you don’t think you can abide by the agreement, don’t sign it.