We call them non-compete clauses over here, if I'm catching your meaning. By and large, they're legal so long as the limitations are not unfair. (For instance, my non-compete limits the jobs I could take if I left my current employer - nothing that competes with them, within fifty miles of any location they work at for a period of one year after I leave my employment, and I cannot do business for their clients or lure away their employees, etc, etc. This is from memory, so I might be off on the terms slightly.) The limitations are to ensure they can't prevent you from making a living in your chosen field.
As an example, my employer could prevent me (using the clause) from taking a job with another government contractor, but I could move fully into the private sector and they'd not have anything they could say about it. Or I could go work for a contractor across the country, if I'm understanding the terms correctly.
Most of the time, non-competes aren't too bad of an issue, from what I've found.
Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
Most of the time they're indeed more scare tactics. I've seen clauses that would essentially prohibit me from doing any work in IT or any company using software similar to the software the employer created for 10 years after leaving the company OR being fired by them.
Such clauses are completely unenforceable.
A clause limiting you to (for example) not working for direct competitors or at customers for a set period of a year without prior permission is quite enforcable though, and will generally stand up in court.
A clause stating you can't leave the company for any reason during the term of the contract I've never seen, but would likely hold up in court unless there were extreme circumstances in your favour.
Contracts generally mention a notice period. That period could in theory be anything, unless there are legal restrictions.
Then there are IP ownership clauses to take care of, which could effectively block you from working anywhere after leaving the company. For example, I've seen clauses that would have me sign over ownership of everything I create (with no limitation as to the context or what it actually is) to the company for a year after leaving that company. That would essentially mean that any software I wrote for anyone for up to a year after quitting or being fired would become their property, not the property of whomever I would work for afterwards... And not just software, books I might write, photos I would take, etc. etc. would all have belonged to them according to the letter of that clause.
Luckily they saw the error in the writing and changed the clause (they'd just never read it properly I guess, thought it applied only to work created based on things I'd developed there for them).
Jeroen, AFAIK, whatever you create using the company's resources (like a PC) is an IP of the company. So, whatever you store in the computer (emails, pics, word docs etc.) could be technically belong to the company.
If I, in my spare time, write a book on my home PC or word-processor, I dont think IPR comes into the picture.
Ganpi, that depends on local law and your contract... And with ever more people working part of the week from home the distinction between office and home gets ever more blurry, as does the definition of the work week.
If I work from home between 10PM and 2AM that's still work for the company. But according to your definition what I create would not belong to the company because it's not on a company computer...