A few weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a stance for the average worker. It proposed a new rule that would prevent companies from imposing non-compete agreements on their employees.
FTC Chair Lina M. Khan in a statement, “The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy. Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand.”
This is HUGE. The FTC estimates that eliminating noncompete agreements could increase wages by nearly $300 billion a year by allowing workers to pursue better opportunities.
Non-competes may have originally been instituted to protect trade secrets or keep a senior executive from leaving to go to a competitor. But today there are over 30 million Americans, and 1 in 5 college graduates -impacted by non-competes, including nurses and construction workers, who are essentially “trapped” in their jobs.
While the ruling will undoubtedly be challenged, the FTC says non-competes amount to unfair business practice. Having worked with numerous clients who feel hamstrung by non-competes that keep them from using their skills to advance their career, get out of a toxic work environment, or just make a change, I agree.