Leading politicians have vowed today to ban controversial “gagging orders” that have risen to prominence in the wake of recent harassment allegations made against retail tycoon Sir Philip Green.
Ministers have revealed sweeping plans this morning to tighten rules around non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which have been at the centre of bullying claims surrounding the Topshop owner in recent months, to prevent employers from using confidentiality clauses as a way of concealing harassment and discrimination incidents from the police.
The move, which comes almost 18 months after the #MeToo movement first shone a light on harassment allegations against business tycoons and celebrities, would allow staff who have signed gagging deals to still be able to blow the whistle on bosses.
Pressure has mounted on the government to prevent wealthy individuals from covering up allegations of harassment following bombshell revelations late last year about billionaire fashion mogul Green, who has reportedly used NDAs to silence and pay off at least five members of staff over harassment allegations.
According to Prime Minister Theresa May, the proposals send “a clear message that a change in the law is needed to ensure workers are able to come forward, be aware of their rights and receive the advice they need before signing up to them”.
Zelda Perkins, an ex-assistant to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, said: “I am very pleased that the government is starting to take steps to deal with the misapplication of NDA's.
However, I hope these steps will turn into larger strides of legislative change which will put an end to the powerful using the law as a tool of abuse.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt, said: “Sexual harassment at work is illegal, yet this disgusting behaviour is something that many women still experience today. I want to make clear to anyone who thinks they can bully and harass people at work, the UK government, good employers and the public will not accept this.”