A recruiter has blasted Phoenix Software over what it claims is a "Dickensian" non-compete clause which prevents staff moving to key rival firms within six months of leaving the reseller.
A Phoenix contract addendum seen by CRN shows a clause stating that within six months of terminating employment with the York-based firm, they are forbidden from joining a number of VAR rivals.
Phoenix states that staff cannot join Trustmarque, Comparex or SBL – which all also have bases in York – within six months. Civica and SoftwareONE also appear on the list.
Paul Davis, boss of software asset management recruiter Merlin Corp, said the clause is outdated and stifled staff.
"The alleged 'Northern Three' LARs [Microsoft large account resellers] – Phoenix, SBL and Trustmarque – have had their noses put out of joint because bigger more successful LARs have moved into their area," he said.
"They appear not able to compete on services or career potential [so] they are resorting to Dickensian efforts to keep any disgruntled employees. [Non-compete clauses] are becoming more common, however the only way to prevent someone from working for the competition is to pay them to stay at home."
But Phoenix hit back at the claims, insisting its staff love working there and that the legal clauses are commonplace across the industry.
"Non-compete agreements are common practice in our industry to protect client relationships," said Phoenix director Sam Mudd.
"We name a handful of competitors as part of this practice, which again is common practice. The list is not exhaustive nor is it growing. Bear in mind there is a nucleus of software resellers in the York area and there has always been a small pool of talent from which we all employ within."
Mudd added that any claims the firm includes the non-compete clause in order to combat high staff turnover rates are wrong.
"Our company culture for the last 23 years has always been about stability and career development, and with more than 70 per cent of our staff having worked for us for five or more years, and 50 per cent having worked here for more than a decade, we can safely say that a stable working environment is something we offer," she said. "Our staff love it!"
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