A inquiry held by the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee into the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in discrimination cases has now closed.
It was opened by the Committee in November and follows a previous enquiry in to sexual harassment in the workplace.
The concern of the Committee centres around the feeling that widespread use of NDAs in settlement agreements could well extend beyond sexual harassment to include other areas such as pregnancy, maternity or race discrimination.
Prior to the start of the inquiry, Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Use of NDAs in sexual harassment cases is only part of the picture.
“This new inquiry will focus on their wider use in other cases involving other forms of harassment and discrimination.”
Written submissions were invited regarding the particular types of harassment or discrimination for which NDAs are more likely to be used; whether or not they should be banned or restricted in these cases and if so, what impact they would have on the way cases are handled.
The inquiry focused whether or not employers use NDAs repeatedly to deal with cases involving a single harasser, and if this is the case, is appropriate action being taken?
Significantly, the inquiry also asked what the role of boards and directors should be, and if employers should be obliged to disclose the number and types of NDAs.
As well as written submissions, the inquiry also heard from legal experts in person, all of whom had direct experience of dealing with employee discrimination complaints, and subsequently, vast knowledge about how NDAs are used in such cases.
One one such session, Jane Mann, Partner and Head of Fox Williams LLP provided expertise, as did Julie Morris, an Employment Solicitor and Head of Personal Legal Services, at Slater and Gordon.