The Top 5: Tips for Negotiating Non-Compete Agreements
Tips from the trenches to keep your copier career on track
While most employers won’t totally eliminate non-competes from their employment contracts, many of them are willing to negotiate the terms. A few tips to help you out at the negotiating table:
- Talk to a lawyer. Gene Hoff, a Minneapolis-based attorney, says it’s important for workers to recognize that in any employer/employee negotiation, there is unequal bargaining power. Hoff and his partner, Mike Minenko, practice in the areas of business litigation, sales representative law, and employment law. “Usually,” Hoff says, “the employers are holding the upper hand. So if you’re presented with a non-compete agreement, it’s a good idea to review it with an attorney who practices in that area.” Though it may cost you a few hundred dollars to get your non-compete reviewed, doing so could end up saving you thousands in lost wages. Before you sign that contract, it’s a good idea to know exactly what rights you’re signing away.
- Find out if your employment category really needs to be covered by a non-compete. Any type of employee—managers, sales reps, techs, or front and back office staff—may be subject to non-compete contracts in this industry. However, as Minenko says, it’s beneficial for employers to be selective about who they ask to sign non-competes. “Employers put themselves in a better position with the judge if they can demonstrate that they don’t ask every employee to sign a non-compete, but rather only those employees who truly have an impact on their legitimate business interests.”
- Try to reduce the scope. If the geographic area or amount of time covered by the non-compete seems too broad, find out if you can scale it down to what’s strictly necessary to protect the employer’s business interests.
- Ask for a non-disclosure agreement instead. A non-disclosure agreement prevents employees and former employees from sharing protected information, but does not place restriction on their future employment.
- Request a severance package in the event of an involuntary termination so you have something to live on while you’re waiting out the non-compete.