FTC proposes banning employee noncompete clauses

The Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule Thursday that would ban U.S. employers from imposing noncompete clauses on workers, a sweeping measure that could make it easier for people to switch jobs and deepen competition for labor across a wide range of industries, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The proposed rule would prevent employers from imposing contract clauses that prohibit their employees from joining a competitor, typically for a period of time, after they leave the company.

Advocates of the new rule argue that noncompete agreements contribute to wage stagnation because one of the most effective ways to secure higher pay is switching companies. They argue that the clauses have become so commonplace that they have swept up even low-wage workers.

Opponents argue that by facilitating retention, noncompete clauses have encouraged companies to promote workers and invest in training, especially in a tight labor market. The public has 60 days to submit commentary on the rule before it takes effect.