Many companies have so-called "anti-poaching" clauses in job contracts to prevent employees that leave from referring their old colleagues.

I heard some large tech companies have got in trouble with anti-trust agencies for backroom anti-solicitation agreements.

Are these clauses legal and enforceable within the European Union?

1 Answer 1


Yes, so long as they do not overreach

Please note this is a common law answer, it may not be applicable in civil law jurisdictions like most of the EU.

Like non-compete clauses and non-disclosure agreements, non-solicitation agreements can be unenforceable restraints of trade if they are not reasonable.

Reasonable in this context means they are narrowly focused to protect legitimate business interests. A business does not have a “legitimate business interest” in preventing their competitors from poaching their employees in general - a business does not have a right to keep their employees. Therefore, analysis of the agreement must focus specifically on how an ex-employee can “unfairly” solicit compared to an unrelated corporate headhunter.

In practice, this makes them hard to enforce but they are not prohibited.

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