Skip to content

FTC Issues Ban on Noncompete Clauses

May 23, 2024

Noncompete clauses have long been criticized for keeping wages low, stifling innovation, and limiting overall economic dynamism. Many companies have used these clauses to prevent employees from joining competing firms or starting similar businesses. However, a recent regulation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will soon ban the use of noncompete clauses nationwide, changing the landscape for the employee job market.

Implications for Business Owners

This change will take effect 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register. Business owners should review and adjust their employment contracts and competitive strategies accordingly. The FTC’s decision aims to free workers from these restrictions, enhancing their ability to switch jobs, initiate new ventures, and bring innovative ideas to market. This removal of barriers could result in the creation of over 8,500 new startups annually and a projected increase in worker earnings by an average of $524 each year.

For business owners, this regulation change signifies a shift towards greater worker mobility and more open competition for talent. Improving wages and working conditions will become essential for protecting proprietary information and retaining talent. Instead of relying on contractual restrictions, employers will need to focus on non-disclosure agreements and better employment terms. According to FTC estimates, the ban is expected to stimulate job market mobility and result in a 2.7% increase in new business formation each year, along with significant cost savings in healthcare over the next decade.

Potential Exceptions and Employer Responsibilities

While the new regulation generally prohibits noncompetes, several significant exceptions remain. These include allowances for executives whose earnings exceed $151,164, transactions involving the bona fide sale of a business, and protections related to existing causes of action. Moreover, the regulation does not apply to nonprofit entities, raising questions about its retroactive application to existing agreements.

Additionally, employers must notify workers, other than senior executives, that existing noncompetes will no longer be enforced. The FTC provides model language to help employers comply with this notification requirement. Employers should thoroughly review their existing agreements and ensure timely communication with their employees to remain compliant, as failure to adhere to these new guidelines could result in legal repercussions and potential fines.

Compliance and Alternatives to Noncompetes

The FTC has identified several alternatives to noncompetes that allow firms to protect their investments without restricting employee mobility. Trade secret laws and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) offer well-established methods for safeguarding proprietary and sensitive information. Additionally, employers can focus on enhancing wages and working conditions to attract and retain talent. By competing on the merits of workers’ labor services, businesses can foster a more dynamic and motivated workforce while remaining competitive in the marketplace.

As business owners navigate these changes, staying informed and proactively adjusting strategies to comply with the new regulation is crucial. For personalized guidance and answers to any questions you may have, contact your CRI advisor. Our team is here to help you understand the implications of this regulation and support your business in thriving under the new regulatory landscape.

Relevant insights

Join Our Conversation

Subscribe to our e-communications to receive the latest accounting and advisory news and updates impacting you and your business.

By proceeding, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions in the Carr, Riggs and Ingram LLC Privacy Policy.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.