You are here:
  1. Home
  2. For the public
  3. Common legal issues
  4. Problems at work

NDAs - what you need to know as an employee

  • A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between at least two parties, such as an employee/worker and a company, that sets out information that they agree not to share with others.

    An NDA will normally allow you to share the information privately with your spouse or medical professional.

    A good NDA should meet the needs of both parties, not just one. You cannot be forced to sign an NDA if you do not want to accept the terms.

    NDAs may be used to agree:

    • that an employee will not reveal business information if they are leaving a company
    • what an employer will and will not say in the future about an employee
    • the confidential details of any settlement with an employee who is leaving a company

    You can find a solicitor to get independent legal advice on whether you should sign an NDA and what it should contain.

    Are NDAs legally binding?

    An NDA is not legally binding if it tries to stop you reporting a criminal offence or giving evidence to a regulator, for example HM Revenue & Customs or the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

    It may not be legally binding if one of the people signing is not given time to think about the NDA and to get independent legal advice.

    NDAs cannot be used to stop whistleblowing in some cases. Whistleblowing law is complicated and a solicitor can advise on each case. Protect, a charity that encourages safe whistleblowing, can also offer advice.

    What happens if you break an NDA

    If you break an NDA, the other party may take you to court for damages.

    You may lose any money you received from your employer as part of a settlement. It is also likely you will have to pay legal fees.

    What to expect when signing an NDA

    Often a company representative will draft the NDA. You can seek advice from your own solicitor, who will negotiate on your behalf.

    It is important that you understand what you are signing. If you are unsure about the meaning of anything in the NDA, your solicitor can help.

    You should be able to keep a copy of your NDA to refer to.

    Get help

    Find a solicitor

    ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

    Provides support and services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.

    Helpline: 0300 123 1100

    Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm

    Protect

    Aims to stop harm by encouraging safe whistleblowing.

    If you are a member of a trade union, you can get support from their lawyer.