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Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst announces crackdown on use of gagging orders

Employers will no longer be able to use gagging orders to stop staff reporting workplace harassment or discrimination to the police, a Kent MP has said.

Business minister Kelly Tolhurst, who represents Rochester and Strood, said the government is looking to give more confidence to workers and ensure they are not being intimidated into silence.

The proposals, which will be consulted on over the next eight weeks, call for the rights of employees to be made clearer before controversial non-disclosure agreements, known as NDAs, are signed.

Business minister Kelly Tolhurst. Picture: Tony Jones
Business minister Kelly Tolhurst. Picture: Tony Jones

Despite much parliamentary time being currently taken up by Brexit, Mrs Tolhurst said she was confident changes to the law could be brought forward quickly.

"There are legitimate uses of NDAs and the vast majority are used by responsible employers with the consent of the employee," she told Sky News.

"However, it's our job to make sure these minority of individuals are not abusing their position and that employees feel they absolutely understand what their responsibility is in regards to signing one of those agreements."

She added: "There's been increasing evidence to suggest they may be being used to cover up criminal offences, therefore it's absolutely right that as a government we tackle it in the right way.

"This is just one element of what we want to do as a department and as a government to strengthen workers' rights."

The announcement comes after several high profile uses of NDAs have emerged.

In October last year, Labour peer Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Green, who was facing accusations of sexual harrassment and racial abuse, after the Arcadia boss secured an injunction against the Daily Telegraph preventing him from being named.

The retail mogul later dropped the injunction against the newspaper, which then ran a story featuring allegations by several former employees who had signed NDAs.

Sir Philip denies all of the allegations against him.

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