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I have recently been contacted about a role from a company which my current company is in major competition with. My contract states that I cannot work for competing companies for 6 months upon leaving my current position. However, after speaking with the recruiter he insists that I should be able to switch roles without incurring any issues with my current employer.

The role is doing exactly the same as my current position but on a much higher pay band so for me it's at least worth considering. But I don't want to end up in a situation that could cause me legal grief in the coming months. So my question is, has anyone on here had a similar contractual situation and has been through the transition? If it helps I work as a software developer.

closed as off-topic by gnat, mhoran_psprep, sf02, IDrinkandIKnowThings, JazzmanJim Sep 13 at 13:58

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  • What is your location? In some areas clauses like this are known to be unenforceable, in others not so much. – Player One Sep 13 at 10:38
  • I'm in the UK currently, I don't want to give information on the specific parts of the UK for obvious reasons :) – A. Fletcher Sep 13 at 10:43
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    Does your contract state a financial penalty for breakong non-compete? If so then the new company may simply reimburse you that amount. – Zefiryn Sep 13 at 11:18
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    I used to fall right in with the people who claim "non-compete clauses are generally unenforceable." But then I watched a coworker and his new employer incur a few hundred thousand dollars in damages and legal expenses as a result of one. "Enforceable" or not doesn't always mean a bitter ex-employer won't try to cause you problems. So, yeah. Go talk to a lawyer, don't listen to strangers on the internet who probably aren't experts in this matter. – dwizum Sep 13 at 12:41
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Talk to a lawyer

Your recruiter isn't paid to know the law, they are paid to sign you up to companies. I've personally seen some very shady behaviour from some recruiters in the past, and without knowing this one, I wouldn't rule out that they may be lying to you.

With that said, in some jurisdictions, it is true that non-compete clauses are either unenforceable or enforceable only in limited circumstances (typically wouldn't apply to an ordinary software developer). A lawyer will be able to clear this up for you, and in a reliable fashion.

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    I've just re-read my current contract and it also states I should speak to a lawyer regarding this. I will weigh up my options as to whether its worth it and make a decision on it. Appreciate the help! – A. Fletcher Sep 13 at 12:33
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I'll "third" the recommendation that you contact a lawyer.

You have two choices.

The first is to take the information to your current employer, explain how much you enjoy working there, and how you believe you are a valuable asset. Then you ask for more money. It sounds like you have a valid offer in hand, but don't want to leave. This is the "I have done market research and believe the market is above my current pay level." answer to "How to ask for a raise."

The second is to ask the lawyer if the clause is enforceable because you aren't happy where you are and the offer is attractive. Non-compete clauses usually aren't against "rank and file" employees because, sad to say, software developers are more of a commodity resource than a specialized one. Your departure will not harm the company, neither would you taking the job at the competitor. In other words, you aren't a critical resource.

If you want to stay with your current employer and continue to grow your career, the first approach is likely the best. You may have to up your performance to match the higher compensation level, but having that discussion is usually a good thing.

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I second the "talk to a lawyer" advice, and to not blindly trust a recruiter.

Little anecdote : I had a non-compete clause in my contract (I'm from Belgium, so the laws might not be the same in the UK). In Belgium, a non-compete clause has to pass certain requirements to be legal : a minimum salary, some industries aren't eligible,... And even if the clause is legal, it's not always enforced : the ex-employer has to pay the employee (half the salary, so for a six month period he would pay you three months worth of salary), which some decide not to do. In my case, the clause wasn't enforceable in the first place, I wasn't paid enough.

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