Q&A I have restrictive covenants in my contract, does that mean my employer stop me working for a competitor?

Q: I work for a recruitment consultancy as a head-hunter. I am keen to move to another recruitment company, but I am concerned about my restrictive covenants in my employment contract. Can my current employer really stop me working for a competitor?

A: More and more recruitment companies are using restrictive covenants as a means to protect their business from departing employees. If the covenants are well drafted so that they are tailored to protect the legitimate business interests of the company, they may well be enforceable and so may impact on your future employment prospects.

The first step you should take is to read your contract and understand what it is seeking to prevent you from doing. There are various types of restrictions which may impact on your future employment in different ways:

If you are concerned that your covenants may affect your future employment prospects or working for a competitor, then you should take specific legal advice. When dealing with restrictive covenant issues, it is usually better to take advice at the outset, before you go approaching clients and candidates. You may be able to find a workable solution to the issues you are facing and avoid the prospect of litigation. It can be highly stressful to receive a letter from your employer threatening litigation.

Your solicitor is likely to consider the following issues, to help them to determine if your covenants are enforceable:

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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