Closeup of Pensive Middle-aged Man Drinking Tea

Employment law

Can a LinkedIn profile update break employment law?

As a LinkedIn user you may not be aware that if you leave your job and change your details on LinkedIn, you could be unlawfully soliciting your ex-employer’s clients.

04 April 2018

What issues can arise from updating your LinkedIn profile?

There are more than 740 million LinkedIn users worldwide and 26 million of these are registered in the UK. The numbers are growing all the time and many professionals now find it an indispensable marketing and networking tool. Many people have LinkedIn accounts at the request of their employer so may have both their own and their employer’s contacts in their accounts. This is where issues can arise when you leave that employer.

Employers have several ways in which they try to protect their clients and contacts when an employee leaves their employment. Many employment contracts will contain post termination restrictive covenants which may prevent an employee for limited period of time from, for example, soliciting their clients. This is called a non-solicitation covenant. They can be difficult for employers to enforce because it can be hard to prove that an employee has made active contact with the client and encouraged them to do business with them instead.

A particular problem arises with LinkedIn in relation to non-solicitation covenants. Most LinkedIn accounts automatically notify all of your contacts when you update your profile. Therefore, if when you leave your job you change the name of your employer this will be notified to your contacts, which may include clients of your employer. There have been a few cases in the Courts about precisely what actions could breach a non-solicitation covenant. However, if your LinkedIn account stated that you were happy to be contacted at the new company this might fall the wrong side of a very thin line.

What are employers doing to protect themselves?

The problem for employers is that even if your actions don’t breach a non-solicitation covenant it could still be damaging for the employer for you to have notified your contacts in this way that you have moved. In these times of incredible increase in the use of social media, employers are thinking of new ways in which to protect their business. One such way is an increased use of longer garden leave provisions in a contract of employment.

This would mean that an employee is prevented from contacting clients during this period at all, and, as they would still be an employee of the current company, they would have no valid reason to change their employer details on LinkedIn. This may be good news for some who are happy to relax in their garden for 6 months but will be damaging to others who wish to follow up with their contacts and remain active in their industry.

It would be wise, therefore, to look out for long periods of garden leave when you are offered a new contract and try and resist this if it does not suit you.

What to do when you are leaving your old employer:

  • Check in your contract of employment what post termination restrictions you are bound by
  • If you are bound by a non-solicitation covenant think about how any actions you take on LinkedIn may breach this
  • Check in your contract or any termination letter whether you have an obligation to remove details of all employer contacts in LinkedIn
  • Check whether you have an obligation not to hold yourself out after termination of employment as being connected with the employer. If this is the case then you would need to make sure you change your employer details on LinkedIn as soon as your employment ended.

For expert legal advice about employment contract law or restrictive covenants, please call our expert solicitors on 0330 041 5869 or contact us online and we'll call you.

All the above information was correct at the time of publication.

Find out more from our experts
woman on tablet at home
Employment Law
Employment law advice
Our specialist employment lawyers are here to help and provide quick and effective initial assessment on a range of employment disputes. Book a £150 consultation for clarity on your employment situation and what steps you can take.
Young women smiling over coffee
Employment law
Can your employer dictate when you take holidays?
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, you're entitled to take paid holidays. Unfortunately, many workers are denied holidays by their employers. Our employment lawyers are here to help if this has happened to you.
Young woman looking thoughtfully out of a window
Employment law
Has a colleague raised a grievance against you?
It's never pleasant when colleagues fall out or just don't get on due to a personality clash. However, the real problems can begin when someone raises a grievance against you at work. That's why we've explained your rights and what action you need to take when that happens, in this brief guide.
Three friends working round a table
Employment law
Discrimination at work solicitors
There are laws in place to protect you from discrimination at work. Discrimination in the workplace is challenging and you need legal help to put your best interests first. We’re here to support you, guide and help you bring a discrimination compensation claim against your employer.
Search our website
Sorry, we have no results to show
Please try a different search term.
Oops, something went wrong
Please try typing in your search again.
Back to top