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Massachusetts Pol Wants to Loosen Non-Compete Agreements

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One of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts is proposing to limit non-compete agreements to 12 months.

Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo raised the prospect at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday, according to BostInno and other reports.

DeLeo, a Democrat, cited complaints that students who get their degrees at area colleges end up leaving the state because of non-competes. “We want to make sure those people are staying and working and raising their families here in Massachusetts. That’s why we came up with the compromise relative to the 12-month expiration,” he noted.

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Non-competes have long been a hot issue in the Bay State. Opponents say the agreements, which many prospective employees have to sign as a condition of employment, keep talented labor from taking new opportunities and even force some top tech talent to flee for California or other jurisdictions where non-competes are unenforceable. A non-compete can now last for several years.

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Some local employers, notably Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC (EMC), strongly support non-competes and have lobbied against changes.

Former Gov. Deval Patrick proposed changes two years ago, but that effort went for naught.

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DeLeo’s proposal also includes a provision that would require employers to explicitly tell job candidates that they will be asked to sign an agreement in advance and that low-wage workers be exempt from non-compete agreements.