Unity has offered its employees golden handcuffs in return for theirrival Landis. signatures on an amended contract, in light of two employees leaving to join rival distributor Landis.
According to a source, a copy of the contract had been amended on 26 January to include Landis in its competitive clause, as well as a specification that staff would receive a payment of #500 once the contract was signed.
However, the source said this was then changed to state that only half the original amount would now be offered to employees who signed.
Richard Chilver, sales director at Unity, confirmed that employees had been offered money to sign, but declined to confirm how much they were paid. He remarked that there was nothing unusual in the offer but conceded that demands were being made of staff.
'It is nothing strange - we are restricting the staff's rights and we should do something in return,' he argued.
Chilver also insisted the majority of staff were happy with the contract and did not feel restricted. 'This was not a bribe, it was to show appreciation of them signing the contract,' he said.
The contract had previously included constraints regarding networking distributors Azlan, Anixter and Ilion. Chilver said: 'Landis has set up as a networking distributor in the UK. We have to take sensible precautions, and this amendment protects us in the future.'
Omar Agha and Murad Vassib, both former sales executives at Unity, joined Landis in January this year, before the amended contract.
But a source said: 'Distributors doing this are restricting the employees' options. I have never heard of a company offering money to sign a contract.'
The revelation that Unity has amended its employee contracts echoes that of its rival distributor Ilion, which changed the competitor clause on its own employment contract to include Landis, after the Dutch firm set up last year.
Since then, however, a number of employees have refused to sign the contract over fears it would limit their work opportunities if they chose to leave the company (PC Dealer, 21 January).
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