Are Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) being used to conceal unlawful discrimination, harassment or abuse at work? Women and Equalities Committee launches new inquiry

Are Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) being used to conceal unlawful discrimination, harassment or abuse at work? Women and Equalities Committee launches new inquiry

Following its recent inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, which recommended that the Government should clean up the use of NDAs in sexual harassment cases, the Committee today launches a new inquiry to look at the wider use of NDAs in cases where any form of harassment or other discrimination is alleged. This might include, for example, pregnancy or maternity discrimination or racist abuse.

Women and Equalities Committee Chair Maria Miller said:

“Use of NDAs in sexual harassment cases is only part of the picture. This new inquiry will focus on their wider use in other cases involving other forms of harassment or discrimination.”

The Committee is inviting written submissions to the inquiry by Wednesday 28 November. Questions which the inquiry will focus on include:

  • Are there particular types of harassment or discrimination for which NDAs are more likely to be used?
  • Should the use of NDAs be banned or restricted in harassment and discrimination cases? What impact would this have on the way cases are handled?
  • What safeguards are needed to prevent misuse?
  • What is the role of internal grievance procedures? What obligations are there on employers to ensure these are fair and thorough?
  • How easy is it for employees and employers to access good quality legal advice on NDAs? How can quality and independence of legal advice for employees negotiating severance agreements be assured when advice is paid for by the employer?
  • Do some employers use NDAs repeatedly to deal with cases involving a single harasser? If so, is appropriate action being taken to deal with the behaviour?
  • What should the role of boards and directors be? And should employers be obliged to disclose numbers and types of NDAs?