The guidance follows our 2018 report ‘Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work’, which explained that, while some confidentiality agreements do have legitimate uses, they are routinely and inappropriately used to cover up, and stop workers from speaking up about, harassment. In turn, preventing discussion of discrimination on a wider scale.
It outlines some important dos and don’ts:
- don’t ever ask a worker to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of their employment contract which would prevent them from making discrimination claim against you in the future
- don’t use a confidentiality agreement to prevent a worker from discussing a discriminatory incident that took place in their workplace unless, for example, the victim has requested confidentiality around their discriminatory experience
- don’t ever use a confidentiality agreement to stop employees from whistleblowing, reporting criminal activity or disclosing other information as required by law
- do always give your worker time to read and fully understand the terms of a confidentiality agreement
- do always give your worker a copy of the confidentiality agreement
- do make sure the confidentiality agreement spells out the details of exactly what information is confidential
- do monitor the use of confidentiality agreements in your workplace
It also serves as timely reminder for employers to update any out of date policies, such as those on bullying and harassment.
We have issued the guidance using our powers to provide information and advice under section 13 of the Equality Act 2006.
Read the guidance: The use of confidentiality agreements in discrimination cases