NDA’s – our response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee recommendations and report

Non Disclosure Agreements are legal blackmail, used frequently by companies to mask abhorrent behaviour. We do not know the full extent of the problem as NDA’s are signed behind closed doors and their use is not monitored. Our own research has shown that 92% of women who signed an NDA after encountering maternity discrimination said signing was their only option and 69% said signing had a negative impact on their mental health.

NDAs ensure that an employer can protect their reputation, this acts as an incentive for companies to settle a claim without going through a tribunal. If NDAs were abolished it would mean fewer companies would settle in advance, forcing victims to face a gruelling and costly tribunal process.  Abolishing them is therefore not an option. We need to find new ways of reducing the use of NDAs whilst ensuring discrimination victims can access the justice they deserve.

We are supportive of the recommendations put forward by the WESC, though we do think they could go further. It is vital that the use of NDAs is monitored by an independent body so that we can better understand the extent of the problem, and so we can investigate and penalise companies who are regularly using them to cover up abhorrent behaviour. We were pleased to see that the Committee recommended time limits for raising a tribunal claim be increased, and access to legal aid be improved. We also agree that the wording used on NDAs should make it clear what information can and cannot be shared, and we strongly support the recommendation to significantly increase awards for the non-financial impact of discrimination.’’


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