Legislators Hear Testimony on Non-Compete Restrictions

Opinion

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non-compete that I have with my previous employer. Therefore, I am collecting unemployment. Non-competes are not fair,” and “Full pay and health insurance coverage should be guaranteed during the period of the non-compete,” said other supporters of change.

One opponent of the reforms, who highlighted the fact that forty-nine states honor some form of non-compete agreements, said, “California is the only state that has outlawed non-competes entirely; I do not want Massachusetts to be the only other state.” A small business owner against the changes said, “A single bill cannot cover all industries and people. In my business, individuals making much less than that threshold ($75,000 per year) have access to critical information and should be covered by a non-compete clause.” Another small business owner said, “Small companies employ more people in the state and the proposed changes will be devastating. These companies form the backbone of our economy.”

Matt Marx, an assistant professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said his research on non-competes showed a significant number of employees were asked to sign non-compete agreements that lasted over three years! Almost one-third of employees do not receive their non-compete agreements till their first day at work, and are pressured to sign them.

To me, it is clear that a significant number of skilled employees in the state are suffering under the current law, and Massachusetts has to use every available means to retain talent and help grow the economy. This is a challenging issue and the committee got to hear a broad spectrum of views. With the public hearings now completed, the bill will be taken up by the committee, and hopefully brought to the floor during the current session.

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Amrith Kumar is a technologist and entrepreneur who has helped design, architect and create enterprise class software and hardware products. He is the co-founder of the Boston Big Data Summit and writes a blog, Hype Cycles, which discusses a variety of technology related subjects. Follow @

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