A committee of MPs has launched a new inquiry into whether non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are being used to conceal unlawful discrimination, harassment or abuse at work.

Following its recent inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, which called on the Government to clean up the use of NDAs in sexual harassment cases, the Women & Equalities Committee is looking at the wider use of NDAs in cases where any form of harassment or other discrimination is alleged. This might include, for example, pregnancy or maternity discrimination or racist abuse.

The MPs are inviting written submissions on questions including:

  • Are there particular types of harassment or discrimination for which NDAs are more likely to be used?
  • Should the use of NDAs be banned or restricted in harassment and discrimination cases? What impact would this have on the way cases are handled?
  • What safeguards are needed to prevent misuse?
  • What is the role of internal grievance procedures? What obligations are there on employers to ensure these are fair and thorough?
  • How easy is it for employees and employers to access good quality legal advice on NDAs? How can quality and independence of legal advice for employees negotiating severance agreements be assured when advice is paid for by the employer?
  • Do some employers use NDAs repeatedly to deal with cases involving a single harasser? If so, is appropriate action being taken to deal with the behaviour?
  • What should the role of boards and directors be? And should employers be obliged to disclose numbers and types of NDAs?

Committee chair Maria Miller commented: “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 or discrimination.”

Anyone wishing to make a submission concerning their personal experience of NDAs should contact committee staff on womeqcom@parliament.uk or on 020 7219 6645/6123 to discuss how the submission may be dealt with and how it might be used by the committee. Where appropriate, names and other identifying information in submissions will usually be removed before publication.

Written submissions to the inquiry should be sent by Wednesday 28 November.