After falling off the radar recently, it appears that non-compete reform is back on the agenda on Beacon Hill. As reported by the Boston Globe, in a March 2, 2016 speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo voiced support for placing restrictions on non-competition agreements. Among the measures advanced by DeLeo were: (1) limiting the duration of non-competes to 1 year; (2) banning non-competes for low-wage workers, interns, employees under the age of 18, and employees terminated without cause; (3) requiring employers to provide prospective employees with notice that a non-compete is required for a position and time to seek legal counsel; and (4) requiring employers to pay 50% of a former employee’s pay when the employee is not working because of his or her non-compete.
DeLeo’s support for non-compete reform is a significant development. Some in the business community – including the Commonwealth’s high-tech sector – have been pushing for non-compete reform for the past several years. In fact, the Senate passed a bill placing limitations on the enforcement of non-competes in 2014, but the House did not follow suit. With DeLeo now on board, compromise legislation could be introduced and pass both chambers in the near future. If the reforms have the support of the business community, it would be difficult to imagine Governor Baker not supporting compromise legislation passed by the Legislature.
Having been in tech for 30 years, it seems to me that we lost some of our edge by making it very very difficult for people to start tech companies in which the founder(s) have recently left or been RIF’d from a large company. In the 1970/1980s, the companies that spun out of DEC, Wang, and others are what put us on the map like Silicon Valley.
I believe eliminating a time period would hep innovation and keep more talent in MA.