More companies are implementing non-compete agreements for low-wage employees, who are less capable of working farther away and less likely to have savings to fall back on. To combat this, a bill has been introduced in the Senate by senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) that would prohibit the use on non-compete agreements for workers who are paid less than $15 an hour.
The Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees (MOVE) Act would also require employers to notify potential hires that they will be required to sign a non-compete. Furthermore, the wage limit changes depending on if the minimum wage is higher in a given area.
With an uptick in the economy, many companies saw their competitors begin to hire. In order to maintain their talent base and avoid the costs of recruiting and training, they began slapping non-competes on all employees. A recent study found that 12.3% of workers are bound by a non-compete.
Non-compete agreements are used to protect a company’s financial interest, particularly trade secrets and other valuable and tangible information. But how secretive is a turkey on rye? The sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is one example of a company that recently went to court over its employee requirements.
Non-compete agreements are bad for business. Even when companies offered better training or benefits to offset non-competes, studies show employees report poor morale and feeling of being stuck at their jobs rather than valued.
Some argue that non-compete agreements are rarely enforced for low-wage workers. Feelings of entrapment, however, are very real. There is still the very real threat of legal action. Employees may not seek better employment or more competitive salaries because they think they have no other choice.
The MOVE Act could have great results for South Carolina workers if passed. If we truly believe in “right to work,” let’s enable people to find the right work at the right salary to support their families.