Adam Bernstein explains how to best manage the departure of employees from optical practices

Practices are, by definition, people-oriented businesses that provide clinical and retail services while maintaining personal relationships with patients. But while such personal relationships engender loyalty, they are a business weakness in that when an employee leaves, patients may be inclined to follow.

Likewise, when an employee departs they also ‘take’ with them information not only about patients, but also pricing and key suppliers. Fundamentally, a departing employee can cause a practice harm. One solution is a term in their contract known as gardening leave. This gives an employer the right to require the employee to work their notice period at home.

Alex Kleanthous, a consultant and employment solicitor in the dispute resolution and commercial litigation team of Gannons, knows from experience that ‘employers use these clauses to distance an employee from patients and colleagues to minimise the risk of poaching when the employee actually leaves.’ They are also used in conjunction with restrictive covenants.

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