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Poaching Employees – What it is and is it Ethical or Legal?

Loyalty among employees is hard to come by these days, as people constantly look for greener pastures and better opportunities. In this aspect, it is common for companies to lure key employees of rival firms into working for them. This is called poaching employees.

Poaching workers may sound unethical but has been ongoing in the corporate world for many years. Companies practice it to get superstar employees to work for them, particularly for startups. It eliminates the need for extensive training and selective recruitment because it assures quick recruitment of topnotch workers in their respective fields.

Two businesspeople at office

Nevertheless, many companies fear that poaching could harm their business when former employees use trade secrets against them as employees work for competitors. For this reason, employers generally require workers to sign non-compete clause or agreement to protect the interest of the company when workers leave and work for rivals.

A typical non-compete clause indicates that the employee agrees not to work for rival companies for a specific period, solicit business from the company’s existing clients, or set up a competing business of their own.

contract signing close up of hand and pen

Experts say that generic non-compete agreements tend fall short in court. For such agreements to take effect, it is best to make a customized or specific agreement for key employees and have them sign it. While signing such agreement may be optional for those holding non-critical positions do not have to sign it, employees who are at risk of misusing company trade secrets must do.

In another perspective, non-compete clauses limit career options for otherwise skilled employees who are looking for new opportunities. These individuals need to wait for the agreement term to lapse before they can start working for rival companies or setup their own business. They may have to set aside years of work experience in order to avoid the legal issues concerning the agreement.

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