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I work at a company and was asked to sign a NDA/CA (non disclosure agreement/confidentiality agreement). There is no expiry date (indefinite) as long as the knowledge doesnt become public knowledge. Further the Dutch criminal law (Wetboek van Strafrecht) is applicable. Article 23 (monetary fines) are mentioned as well.

Would it be reasonable to ask for financial compensation? Or not sign it at all?

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  • 4
    Why do you have an issue with that NDA? While a non-compete might raise some concerns, I don't see why you would jeopardize your position over something maybe not very common (at least where I work, in Belgium, so not too far...), but not unreasonable and with very limited impact on your future positions...
    – Laurent S.
    Aug 11 at 22:40
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    Why would you feel that you need to be compensated for signing an NDA? Why would you not sign it? In the USA, an NDA is not the same as a non-compete agreement, so an NDA should have no material impact on your ability to take any job you like at any company in the future.
    – joeqwerty
    Aug 11 at 23:02
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    Are indefinite NDAs even legal in your country?
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 11 at 23:14
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    @PeteW An NDA is a non-disclosure agreement. How does signing one limit your future employment potential? Perhaps you're thinking of a non-compete agreement rather than a non-disclosure agreement?
    – joeqwerty
    Aug 12 at 2:07
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    For clarity, is this NDA from ANOTHER company that will be working with your company on some sort of product? If so, this is not unusual. Otherwise, NDAs are usually signed when you first start employment, as a condition of employment. My advice would be to not sign a document unless you get something for it (continued employment would be something). Aug 12 at 3:59
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I work as a hospital as a programmer. This means that I need to be able to access patient data to debug problems. Obviously this is a privacy concern, because I might sell this data to interested third parties.

Signing an NDA was expected from the start in this line of work. It is a logical necessity to prevent such abuse. Having an expiry date on it also doesn't make sense, because even though I no longer work there, the patients' privacy remains equally important.

Asking for special compensation for that NDA makes little sense. It is just one of the default requirements alongside knowing how to program to get this job in the first place. If I hadn't agreed on the terms I wouldn't have gotten this job, simple as that.

Given how you'll be working for a government agency you'll probably also need to have access to information that will cause problems if found out by people outside of the organisation. Hence why signing an NDA in such case makes sense and is not something you should/could ask compensation for directly.

Only if something actually makes a job less appealing in general, which means fewer people would apply at all, can you use it as leverage to ask for extras. Otherwise the job will just go to the next person in line.

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    I don't know what the law says about this in your country, but in some countries the laws protecting medical data are so strong that your employer would only have to make sure you're aware of the law, rather than making you sign any kind of NDA.
    – Stef
    Aug 12 at 12:27
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    There are certain situations that aren't explicitly forbidden by law. For example if I run into someone I know inside the hospital on a specific department, I'm not allowed to ask them first why they are there, because I would be socially forcing them into giving more information than they might want to share. If they start talking to me first I am allowed to respond. I do agree though that a lot of abuse is already prevented by law without the NDA.
    – Imus
    Aug 17 at 8:47
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I also work in the Netherlands. This is nothing weird as far as I know. At the company I work at, I have (local) governments as clients, and we sign and co-sign NDA's all the time. Also with non-government clients, it's pretty common to do this.

You shouldn't ask for compensation, this is standard procedure and asking for money to sign this would raise some eyebrows, and will probably be a deal-breaker if you don't want to sign unless you're compensated.

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NDA's are a very common modern workplace practice, and employers use them routinely to protect their interests. You should not consider any kind of compensation for signing one, because it is viewed as a standard part of the employment agreement, and you aren't doing anything beyond your existing scope of work to abide by it. An NDA is simply codiyfing a rule that already exists in most workplaces to not share confidential information with outside parties.

Not only will asking for compensation not work because you won't receive it, but doing so could harm your position at the company if the HR or security department feels you become a liability. If you feel strongly about signing the NDA, your only realistic options are to resign your position and be very careful about what information you share in the future, or accept the NDA and move on.

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  • I signed a default nda when joining, but this is an extra nda. With different clauses and rules.
    – JonathanG
    Aug 12 at 16:02
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    Then the concept of not asking for compensation still applies, but you should consider why they're asking for a new NDA. Is it just that they changed the NDA and its a policy update? Are you being assigned a new role/project with its own restrictions? You probably should assess whether this NDA is overly restrictive, if it is legitimate, etc. and determine whether this is cause to leave the company (I personally can't make a judgement without being in your shoes), but compensation for the NDA itself is not a reasonable expectation.
    – Chris
    Aug 12 at 17:11
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I dont know in what field you work, but NDAs are quite common in the software industry. Just like that anything you make during work, belongs to the company. Usually you already get "compensated" by earning more than people who work there and dont know anything and dont need an NDA.

If the work is good, the team seems nice and you want to work there, sign it. Otherwise it will be pretty hard to find a Job without having to sign and NDA.

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  • If I made more then people who dont need to sign it, sure, but that is not the case.
    – JonathanG
    Aug 12 at 11:06
  • @JonathanG there are people who dont need to sign NDAs in your same field but you have to? That seems very strange.
    – bibleblade
    Aug 12 at 13:02
  • they will not be working on this project. From the engineering division, only me and one other engineer need to sign this, as the others wont work on this.
    – JonathanG
    Aug 12 at 13:24
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The below is a layman's understanding, consult a lawyer for an expert opinion.

Compensation

Under Dutch law, an NDA that limits your current or future ability to find work is not enforceable. You're already compensated through your salary, so an NDA that does not affect your market value does not warrant additional compensation.

Standardizing confidentiality

People have different standards, when it comes to what you can and can't discuss about your work. The NDA merely serves to formalize and document the expectations of the company with regards to confidentiality. It might, for instance, limit you to certain devices (only company-owned) or communication channels.

If the NDA contains something you fundamentally disagree with and this section is non-negotiable, consider it a fundamental disagreement with regards to the terms of your employment. Find a different job.

Long Term Applicability

How will this NDA likely affect you in the future?

  • You cannot cannot take any documents - not even your own research notes or code - if they were developed with company IP or on company time.
  • You may still talk about past and current projects - you just can't name the client, internal business decisions, patentable work or details a third party could benefit from.
  • You technically cannot discuss many subjects with your spouse or friends. Or external technical experts that have not signed an NDA.

However:

  • When you leave, you take all the skills you've developed and experience you've gained. A similar project means retracing your steps, but will take much less time.
  • Not being able to name the client is not much of a limitation: When job hunting 'A large healthcare SAAS company in Kopenhagen' is fair play and uniquely identifies the company.

The burden of proof is heavy, under Dutch law. So even with an NDA, it's typically 'no harm, no foul'. You need to be either malicious or extremely negligent for a judge to approve your firing, or a fine.

The one thing that is often missing with these NDA's (and your contract), is a description of the process for getting pre-publication approval (for blogs or tech talks) or for working on Open Source projects at work - or in your personal time. If either is relevant to you, that's worth a discussion.

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My first impression (not saying this is what your intent is) is that it almost comes across initially as blackmail. If you spent your life creating something and you required help/ employees, would you be ok with them taking your years worth of creativity elsewhere and replicating what you are doing at the expense of all of your efforts? Usually non disclosure agreements are in appropriate places for appropriate reasons and they truly shouldn't have to negotiate with anyone to accept and be ok with it.

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A lot of people are answering without knowing the scope of the NDA, which is very odd.

The existence of an NDA is a non-issue. The problem is its scope. If you're a programmer, and the NDA involves you never getting a programmer job anywhere else for the rest of your life, that is a problem. It may not even be legally enforceable, but the existence of this signed NDA will cause problems.

If you have concerns with the specific scope of your NDA, you can pay for an hour of a labor lawyer's time and have an impartial 3rd party answer your questions.

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  • I have marked your answer as correct, because that is the most sensible step. To contact a lawyer and get it checked out.
    – JonathanG
    Aug 12 at 8:39
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    An NDA cannot stop you getting a programmer job. You are thinking of a non compete. A non disclosure means you can't tell people your employer once tried to make a [whatever] that was going to [something] but it didn't work out. (If it worked out, the information would become public.) Or you can't tell people how your employer's [whatever] works. This doesn't stop you working, like a non compete might. Aug 12 at 8:48
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    An NDA isn't a non compete agreement. All it requires is that you keep a certain set of information secret. It doesn't restrict what jobs you can do in future.
    – Simon B
    Aug 12 at 9:45
  • I am going to ask a lawyer if it is wise to sign the NDA or just skip the project. I understand now that asking a compensation is not smart, but still gonna let a lawyer look at it. As the terms are not favorable in my opinion (very broad definitions).
    – JonathanG
    Aug 12 at 11:01
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    @FluidCode don't be paranoid. An NDA cannot keep you from saying you have X years of experience in Y language. You might not be able to say you worked on the Z project. To extend that to "never getting a programmer job anywhere else for the rest of your life" as this answer does is completely ridiculous. Sep 5 at 14:14

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