Team Moves – Snaring The Poachers

A competitor poaching a team of employees can be devastating to a company's ability to carry on business and service its clients. Below is a summary of key points to consider in relation to a potential team move.

Identification and prevention

The scenario: You employ a senior employee. They develop a close professional relationship with their team. The senior individual leaves your employment. Several members of the team resign shortly afterwards. You understand that they are all going to work for the same employer.

Prevention/limiting damage key tips:

Remain alert: Senior employees who intend to use the benefit of their influence after their employment ends will often leave quietly, by resignation. Ensure you have satisfactory protection: Particular teams (for example sales teams) may be more likely targets. Focus on tighter drafting and regular reviews of the contracts for those staff and include express garden leave terms as well as appropriate post-termination restrictions. Consider also longer and/or staggered contractual notice periods. Ensure that there are relevant express contractual obligations - e.g. a ban on outside interests during employment, and a requirement for the employees to report their own misconduct and that of other employees which comes to their attention. Listen to the grapevine: Clients or colleagues may give you valuable information at an early enough stage to aid you in identifying a potential team move. Make sure you secure valuable electronic evidence at the earliest possible time, before it is concealed or destroyed. Covert monitoring of an employee's use of the business's email, IT and telecommunications systems may be justifiable if there is reasonable cause to suspect wrongdoing. Employees leaving the business: Take reasonable steps to try to retain good employees who have said they are leaving. If nothing else it will help you keep the employment contract alive for longer. Legal action

If you need to take legal action:

STEP 1: Identify the contractual terms that give you protection:

The clauses you are likely to rely on include:

confidentiality; any ban on outside employment or business interests during employment; duty of good faith/fidelity (which will be implied in any event); any fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the employer (likely to apply only to directors unless expressly stated); garden leave; any terms which require the employee to disclose any approaches that they receive from...

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