I am about to take up a new position with a company and they have sent me over a contract to sign. One of the clauses of the contract is headed "Competition" and consists of a paragraph that given the normal grammatical understanding of commas the sentence could be read as follows:
You will not, while employed by the Company, be engaged or interested in any activity without the express permission in writing of the company.
... any activity... like eating a meal or driving my car?
I have queried this with the HR department of the company in question and they have said that the clause is non-optional and that it is specifically not limited just to commercial activity.
I have never come across something this broad before. It seems very strange to me that a company would use a contract to grant itself purview over every single activity I could possibly engage in, inside and outside of the employment but is this considered acceptable within the course of normal employment? Maybe I am misunderstanding the scope of the paragraph?
EDIT: per comments request for jurisdiction information, we can say this in the UK (currently still part of the EU for now).