Labour Research May 2002

Law Queries

Law Queries

* My daughter is a hairdresser. She has been working for a salon for six months and has not been very happy there. She has been offered a job in another salon and would very much like to take it. However, her present employers point to a clause in her contract which states "if any employee joins another hairdressers' within a certain radius (1/4 mile) the salon will sue that employee". Surely this is not legally binding.

These types of terms are commonly called "restrictive covenants". The courts will only uphold them where they do not go beyond what is really needed to safeguard competition and where they last only for a defined period.

In this case the employer would have to show that there were firm business reasons for imposing this type of restriction. With the relatively short period of service your daughter has had with the company it would be difficult to assert that she had acquired such information or expertise that it would really be damaging to the employer if she went elsewhere.

More information: LRD booklet, Contracts of Employment (2001)