Legal pitfalls in hot labour markets

Watch for non-solicit, confidentiality obligations
By Fred Somerville
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/17/2006

When the labour market heats up, so does the potential for legal issues in the hiring and recruiting of employees. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Confidentiality obligations: Virtually all employees have confidentiality obligations and some, particularly knowledge workers, have written confidentiality agreements. When recruiting such individuals, particularly from a competitor, make it clear they must strictly observe all confidentiality obligations to their previous employers. Specify during the interview, and in the offer of employment, that if a potential conflict of interest arises, the recruit should notify his superior and then abstain from any participation in that matter.

Non-solicit obligations: When hiring, find out whether an individual has any written non-solicitation agreements with prior employers. Non-solicit obligations can also arise at common law when an individual has developed a relationship with the customers and clients during her previous employment. If so, she may have a legal obligation to not solicit those customers for a reasonable period of time after the end of her employment, generally six to 12 months.