Know your legal rights

If you’ve been asked to sign an employment contract that includes restrictive covenants, or have recently left a contract which did, it’s important to know exactly what your legal rights are. Seeking the advice of an employment law expert can help you to protect your best interests both now and in the future. 

Smith Partnership offers the help you need. Get in touch with us to find out what we can do for you. 

What are restrictive covenants?

Restrictive covenants usually form part of an employment contract. It is a set of terms which restrict your activities once you stop working for a business or employer. 

Terms often include ‘non-compete’ or ‘non-deal’ clauses such as: 

  • You will not compete with your employer 
  • You will not approach or deal with their customers 
  • You will not approach or employ their staff 
  • You will not disclose confidential information

Once the contract has been signed, you have confirmed that you agree to follow the restrictions in place if and when you end your employment at the business. 

The restrictions are generally enforceable for a specific period of time following the termination of your employment. This time limit should also be stated in the contract. 

Are restrictive covenants always enforceable?

The inclusion of restrictive covenants in employment contracts is perfectly lawful however, certain restrictions are not always enforceable. Where a term is seen as a restraint of trade, a court would rule that it is unreasonable and, therefore, unenforceable. 

Clauses should only aim to protect a business’s legitimate commercial interests and they will need to be able to prove that this is what they do in order for the court to rule in their favour. The time restraint must also only stretch far enough to adequately protect these interests and they may only cover a reasonable and limited geographical location.  

An employer has the right to protect: 

  • Confidential information about the company or trade secrets
  • Connections and relationships with clients/customers 
  • Their workforce

Anything beyond this could be an unlawful restriction so it is advisable to seek professional legal advice when facing any issue regarding restrictive covenants. 

How we can help you

If you find yourself about to enter into a restrictive covenant, are currently subject to restrictive covenants or facing allegations from a former employer for being in breach of one, we can help you. 

Drawing from our years of experience in helping clients overcome similar issues, we are able to tailor an approach which identifies and takes advantage of the best course of action for you. No matter what your circumstances may be, our advice will ensure your legal rights are protected at all times for now and in the future. 

Our services are built on being clear and pragmatic, meaning that any communication or advice you receive from us is guaranteed to be straight-talking and jargon-free. We are committed to making sure our clients are fully aware of their position and options at all times. 

Contact our team today

To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via or complete our contact form.


Restrictive covenants are clauses in an employment contract which restrict an employee from engaging in competitive activities with their employer once their employment is terminated. They will normally restrict an employee from poaching customers or staff after they leave a business, and may even seek to prevent the employee from working for competitors.

Employers can enforce restrictive covenants through legal proceedings, which could include seeking an injunction to prevent further competitive activity in breach of the restrictions, or a claim for damages.

Depending on the seniority of the role, restrictive covenants can be in place for up to 12 months. They should not be in place for longer than is necessary to genuinely protect the employer’s legitimate business interests or they may become unenforceable.