How strict is gardening leave?

How strict is gardening leave?

Getting paid for doing nothing at all may sound like just what the doctor ordered. However, that’s not the case with many executives who have been subjected to enforced gardening leave. Despite the ability to spend days golfing, at the gym and, well, gardening – the zero-meaningful-work restrictions leave many feeling suffocated.

But how constraining, exactly, is gardening leave? 

What is gardening leave?

Gardening leaves originated from a similar practice employed by the British military, where officers were sent home under strict conditions.This was mainly mandated to offending officers, primarily as a form of suspension that kept them from causing aggravation. With nothing else to do, the assumption was that soldiers on gardening leave could only sit in their garden and wait for the next paycheck.

The same is true for the modern civil definition. However, for businesses, it may be voluntary, required as a result of due legal processes, or a standard post-termination or resignation practice. In any case, it serves as a protectionist policy that secures the confidentiality of the organisation’s information and keeps problematic employees from damaging the company or sabotaging the workplace.

However, gardening leave is not always imposed on amicable terms. Businesses may sometimes require their employees to go on leave in light of serious misconduct or damaging behaviour at work. It may also be the case when a key employee resigns or is terminated, their contract might require them to stay put for a certain period and with pay, all to prevent them from sharing confidential company information with rival companies while safeguards are being put in place. 

Just how strict is gardening leave?

Depending on the territory (the UK tends to be stricter than the US on this), numerous restrictions are imposed on employees on gardening leave, the violations of which may lead to litigation that often ends in favour of the employer. Below are some common restrictions:

  • Employees are not allowed to work. They may not take up employment in any other company, even if it’s not a competitor to their current employer.
  • Employees are not allowed to start a business. This aims to keep the employee from using proprietary information to start their own business and gain the upper hand over the company.
     
  • Employees are not allowed to communicate with rival businesses. By doing so, the company ensures that the employee on gardening leave does not engage in any illicit exchange with their competitors or surreptitiously violate the employment ban.
  • Employees may not communicate with certain colleagues and former clients. This restriction ensures the protection of the company’s confidential information and prevents sabotage by suspended employees.
  • Employees are not allowed access to confidential information. This practically locks them away from any classified document, preventing mishandling or malicious activity that may damage the company. 

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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