Having spent the past 12 years recruiting into the channel, I have seen many changes. However, I have been flabbergasted by the approach of certain LARs in the UK.
We are all well aware that joining a company is an exciting time and we mostly check the fine print in the contract to ensure we are agreeing to nothing we might regret later. As a recruiter, I find myself advising on contracts frequently.
But recently I have had a flurry of calls about employees questioning whether certain new conditions will affect their earning potential.
If a vendor changes the rules, and you are in a position where you can no longer sell to a certain area of the channel or certain-sized end users, the employers have to ask whether their employees will be likely to stay or go under the new rules.
This has drawn some UK LARs to make addenda to their employment contracts, some of which are now stating that staff may not jump ship to another LAR that is potentially not governed by the new rules.
That is even though that restriction was not included in the contract when you were originally employed.
It is clear that resellers all have a different modus operandi and figuring out which would be the best company to work for should be part and parcel of deciding whether you want to work there.
If, once your period of employment ends, you might have to serve six months without pay before you can restart your chosen career, that is pretty daunting and surely should be considered before beginning your tenure.
Many lawyers have written about the issue of unfair trading restraints. It is easy to Google "restraint of trade" and find out that most cases have sided with the employee – except where the person is privy to key pricing issues or intellectual property not already in the public domain.
Almost every case I found has been resolved to the satisfaction of both employer and employee, using a period of gardening leave (where the person is paid to stay home) which enables the employer to introduce a new employee into the business.
I am in contact with many lawyers, Chambers and barristers who are comfortable defining what is fair and what is unfair. However, common sense tells me that a girlfriend who becomes a wife, only to find an evening curfew being enforced, is likely very soon to become an ex-wife.
Caveat emptor – buyer beware – and do your due diligence. The knowledge you build up working in a certain industry may, in the eyes of the employer, and only the employer, be seen as intellectual property to which said employer has rights.
Paul Davis is director of MerlinCorp IT
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