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Restrictive Covenants Advice for Employees

It is common practice for employers to include specific terms within employment contracts to place restrictions on workers once they leave their employment. These are referred to in employment law as ‘Restrictive Covenants’.  By restricting employee rights, employers are typically seeking to protect their own business or organisational interests.

If you are a prospective employee, employee, or former employee, and you need guidance on restrictive covenants within a contract of employment provided by your employer, our specialist team of employment law Solicitors can provide you with sharp, insightful legal guidance which will protect your best interests.

What may restrictive covenants cover?

Not all contracts of employment will contain restrictive covenants, and those that do will typically vary between employers, depending on the specific interests they were seeking to protect when it was drafted.  Restrictive covenants may seek to prevent employees from:

  • Soliciting customers (existing and potential)
  • Soliciting employees
  • Dealing with customers (even if the customer approaches the former employee)
  • Competing by using confidential information

Employers may include very specific terms and dates on restrictive covenants, and, therefore, before signing an employment contract, it is important you read each in detail and understand all of the implications and consequences.

Are restrictive covenants enforceable in Ireland?

Just because an employer has included provision for specific restrictive covenants, the Court may not uphold them.  As such, some restrictive covenants may be enforceable, but others may not be.  If the Court are asked to rule on a legal matter in relation to restrictive covenants, they will consider three key questions:

  1. Has the intended restriction been clearly defined?  If you are being restricted from entering into competition, does the contract make it clear which specific trade or profession this relates to?
  2. Has a reasonable geographic limit or product scope been included; i.e. it might be unreasonable to stop an employee from working in the same domain in all geographies, or product types.
  3. Has the employee imposed an end date on the restriction post-termination which is as short a feasibly possible?

Employers must ensure restrictive covenants are not included as a blanket provision, and therefore must be carefully considered for each individual role.  This is because the restrictions which may reasonably be included for a senior company director will typically differ from a more junior member of staff.

How can Lavelle Partners assist with restrictive covenants?

  • Lavelle Partners have been working in the field of employment law for over 30 years and have the experience to represent your interests.
  • We have clients from many sectors including finance, manufacturing, and technology, and therefore understand the business and sector context in which employment contracts are written.  And because we understand the commercial forces which motivate businesses and organisations, we are well placed to defend at the interests of employees.
  • Lavelle Partners have gained an enviable reputation across Ireland for providing legal representation and advice which achieves results for our clients.
  • Our team of employment law specialists understand that employees may be placed into challenging and often emotionally charged situations.  As such, our team will work with you in a manner that is supportive and approachable, while being legally robust and strategically astute.

Our partnership with Talbot Pierce

Lavelle Partners work with Talbot Pierce to provide a seamless service in respect of Human Resource Management.  Talbot Pierce are a team of specialist HR professionals who work with us on a range of matters including advice on and delivery of conflict/dispute resolution solutions, best-practice HR strategies, policies and procedures.

For further information on employment contract restrictive covenants in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800.

Please get in touch with one of our specialists