Not all, but many employers can ask that new employees sign a non-compete provision before officially starting work. This could be for a variety of reasons, including the employee leaving and taking trade secrets to a competing business or using the company’s strategies to start their own business.
But, how enforceable are non-compete provisions?
Surprisingly, non-compete provisions are hard to enforce in most Canadian courts. This is because many non-compete provisions have unclear or ambiguous language in the employee contract that is left to be interpreted by the employee rather than potentially enforced.
When signing an employment contract, whether it has a non-compete provision or not, the language must be direct, clear, and concise so that there is only one interpretation of the agreement. Contracts with this type of language are usually valid unless the employer changes the terms of the agreement without notice or consent of the employee.
Where and How Long are Non-Compete Provisions Enforceable?
Each non-compete provision varies depending on the industry of the employment. Many non-compete provisions last anywhere from 12 months to a few years.
The geographical area also usually determines where the non-compete provision is enforceable. For example, the non-compete provision may be enforced in your employer’s city and surrounding cities, but not cities that are in another territory.
How Can Employees Get Around a Non-Compete Provision?
Not all employers require a non-compete provision. The most effective way employees can avoid being trapped by a non-compete provision is by reviewing their employee agreement prior to signing the contract.
If your employer requires a non-compete provision, it’s best to have a legal expert review the document before signing it. Guardian Law Group LLP has experience drafting, reviewing, and litigating non-compete provisions for both employers and employees, so we know what makes them effective and what loopholes to look out for. The lawyers at Guardian Law Group LLP can let you know how legally binding the non-compete provision is; that way, you know what to expect should a situation arise where you may be offered another position with a different company.
Don’t feel obligated to sign an employment contract without having the employment law team of Guardian Law Group LLP examine it first. Contact us today to get started — (403) 457-7778.