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How can I avoid being accused of breaching a NDA or NCC?

In this startup society we live in, it's commonplace for a job offer to come with strings attached. Now more than ever, employers are having their workers sign either a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) or noncompete clause (NCC) or both as a way of protecting their interests.

In the excitement of being extended a job offer, you may feel that signing one of these carries carries no risk. This couldn't be further from the case though.

At the very least, it can make it difficult for you to switch jobs. Few individuals realize what they're signing and, even if they have an idea, they don't truly believe that an employer will ever attempt to enforce the document. Even fewer people realize that they can be negotiated so that they protect your interests as well.

When you sign an NDA, you're agreeing to not share any client details, trade secrets or any other information related to what you do for your employer. It's often used to prevent employees from taking company clients with them when they switch employers.

In contrast, a NCC protects your employer from being competed with by you once you switch jobs. Generally, it limits an employee's future job prospects geographically or for a specific period of time with a particular field.

If your job role has changed significantly since the time you were originally asked to sign the agreement, then it's likely that it will be difficult for your employer to enforce it. This is one of the reasons that companies often have their employees sign updated NDAs or NCCs in order to receive a promotion.

If your employer decides to use a generic document for all of its employees, you may still be able to negotiate terms. Asking an employer to reduce the length of effectiveness or the geographic scope or even negotiating to receive pay while you're unable to work may be viable options.

If your employer accuses you of having broken either your NDA or NCC, then you can expect them to invest significant time and resources in litigation over the matter. Before signing a any kind of binding employement contract, you may find it helpful to consult with a Melbourne breach of contract attorney. In doing so, he or she can advise you of ways to protect your own interests when signing such an agreement.

Source: The Muse, "4 things to know before signing an NDA or NCC," Vernon Gunnarson, accessed Dec. 11, 2017

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