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FTC Changes

Written by Brandon Wright


May 16, 2024

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has introduced a significant new rule that bans non-compete agreements for most U.S. workers. This rule is set to take effect in August 2024, 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Impacted Agreements

Under this new regulation, non-compete agreements are broadly defined. These include any contractual term that restricts a worker from seeking or accepting employment or starting their own business after leaving a job. The rule applies to all workers, encompassing employees, independent contractors, interns, and other categories regardless of their employment status or title.

Exclusions and Exceptions

While the rule is comprehensive, there are notable exclusions and exceptions:

  • Senior Executives: Non-compete agreements with senior executives in place before the effective date can remain enforceable. Senior executives are narrowly defined as those in policy-making positions earning a total compensation of at least $151,164 annually.
  • Sale of Business: Non-compete agreements made in the context of a bona fide sale of a business entity are also exempt. This means that if an individual sells their ownership interest in a business, they can be subject to a non-compete clause as part of that transaction.

Employer Obligations

Employers are required to notify workers currently under non-compete agreements that these agreements are no longer enforceable. The FTC provides model language for this notification to ensure consistency and compliance. This obligation underscores the importance of transparency and clarity in employment practices, ensuring that workers are fully informed of their rights.

Legal and Business Implications

The implementation of this rule is expected to have far-reaching implications for businesses:

  • Business Practices: Companies will need to reassess their employment contracts and policies to ensure compliance with the new rule. This might involve revising or removing non-compete clauses and considering alternative methods for protecting trade secrets and other proprietary information.
  • Legal Challenges: The rule is anticipated to face significant legal challenges, particularly from business groups and other stakeholders who argue that the FTC has overstepped its regulatory authority. These legal battles could delay or influence the ultimate enforcement of the rule.
  • Economic Impact: By eliminating non-compete agreements, the FTC aims to boost wages, reduce healthcare costs, and promote innovation by enabling workers to switch jobs more freely and start new businesses. This increased mobility is expected to benefit workers and the broader economy but may pose challenges for employers who have relied on non-compete agreements to retain talent and protect their competitive edge.

To conclude, the new FTC rule banning non-compete agreements represents a substantial shift in U.S. labor policy, aimed at promoting greater economic liberty and competition. Businesses must take proactive steps to comply with the rule, reassessing their employment practices and preparing for potential legal disputes. By understanding and adapting to these changes, employers can navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and support a more dynamic workforce.

For a detailed discussion and guidance on how this rule affects your business, visit www.ftc.gov.

Contact Us for Compliance Assistance

Stay ahead of these regulatory changes and ensure your organization is compliant. Contact HRDelivered today for expert guidance on understanding and implementing the new FTC rule. Our team can help you navigate these updates smoothly, ensuring your business remains compliant while making the necessary adjustments to your employment practices.

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