Non-Disclosure Agreements

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I am sure you have all heard of the #metoo and #timesup campaigns (see post on 3 March 2018) which aim to stamp out abuse and harassment within the workplace by giving people the voice to speak up. So the removal or updating of the ‘Non-disclosure’ is an important step to deal with the issues.

For those of you who don’t know a ‘Non-disclosure’ is where two parties sign an agreement of complete confidentiality so that no information is shared outside of an organisation without permission of the organisation. But this can often lead to organisations being protected from legal action where cases of bullying or harassment or even unfair dismissal are present in the workplace.

Used correctly they can benefit both parties non-disclosures are good and actually just form the common sense part of the contact. So I mean by this it being used correctly is that complete confidentiality on the operation of an organisation is fine, but there should always be riders or a clause in all such agreements that give permission that total confidentiality is breached or broken by controlled measures and protocol where information is shared on a need to know bases for example bullying or harassment, they should never be used to cover up these serious issues to make an organisation look good.

When I business or organisation is run well, where employees are genuinely happy, wanting to be make the business successful not just by turning up every day doing their bit then go home, but also feeling empowered to contribute. But this can only happen if staff feel safe and know that if something goes wrong where their welfare is compromised they can have it dealt with promptly and in a dignified manner.

So the clause is there to stop things can getting out of hand as people do still talk to friends and family because it’s human nature and if that happens, especially when then things are not going to well, personally if you tell me something that raising concerns of your safety or the safety or others then I will trigger a set procedure to ensure that relevant persons or authorities are informed to ensure individual safety on any level is maintained. This doesn’t mean that I will go and share the information with everyone I meet in the street or have the conversation in the pub during a drunken night out.

If businesses and organisations allow these conversations inside the business than while there maybe a report to say you have problem with bullying or harassment, it will also show that you are actively doing something about it. So this means that if a conversation raises concern for example that someone may commit suicide or the information given indicates there is a level of abuse or bullying somewhere in the organisation then as an organisation you need to have the conversations with people who can do things to help.

Keeping important information quiet that affects staff welfare is not something that should ever be done. This is the point I raised in February in my post Shyness and the Arts, regardless of what the relationship is to the person you know is be harassed or bully or sexually assaulted it is all of our jobs to speak up and a full ‘Non-disclosure’ agreement should not stand in the way of that.

So quite rightly The Equality and Human Rights Commission has called for the banning of these Confidential agreements that used with the aim cover up issues in the workplace. Personally, as you can see I don’t understand why anyone would want to cover these issues up. Surely only a bad manager would want to do this because if they don’t deal with it and allow these things to get out of hand they are only creating a work environment that nobody would want to work in as the confidential agreement won’t stop people from complaining to their friends and family during catch up time.

Reporting issues of harassment and bullying in the workplace should never jeopardise a person’s health, welfare or job in anyway. According to a recent survey by the EHRC of more than a thousand people the levels of harassment and bullying in the workplace is very much underestimated, and while the non-disclosure agreements stand in their current format then this will continue to be the case. We need to stand together against bullying and harassment in the workplace, in any place by joining the #timesup campaign.