Tearfund pledges to drop use of NDAs and lift existing confidentiality clauses

Tearfund has pledged to no longer use non-disclosure agreements and said it will lift confidentiality clauses from people who had previously signed one with the charity. 

The Christian development charity said in a statement there was a wider debate in society, the church and the voluntary sector about the use of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements. 

It said that although it had “very rarely” made use of NDAs, it believed the move was “the best way forward for Tearfund, for those who work for Tearfund and ultimately for the communities we are called to work with”. 

The move comes a week after Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England should not use NDAs. 

Tearfund’s statement, published yesterday, said it would no longer use confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements. 

“We will mutually lift existing confidentiality clauses from anyone who has signed one with us as part of a settlement agreement should they wish us to,” it said. 

The charity declined to confirm how many such agreements it had signed with former staff, reiterating that it had used them rarely. 

“Tearfund has very rarely used settlement agreements, entering into them only after very careful consideration,” the statement said. 

“On the few occasions that we have used settlement agreements, it has been to allow parties to resolve disagreements and move on after a relationship has irretrievably broken down, or where it has been necessary for employment law purposes.

“Previously, a confidentiality clause has been used within settlement agreements for the benefit of both parties. 

“We have never used a confidentiality clause to cover up wrongdoing and our settlement agreements make clear that they do not in any way prevent the individual from raising any concerns with relevant regulatory bodies.”

The statement added that in some cases employees might want to have a confidentiality clause as part of a settlement agreement and “in such cases we may consider using one”. 

A former Tearfund employee, who asked not to be named, said they welcomed the move but disputed the charity’s claim it had not used them to cover up allegations of wrongdoing. 

"I welcome this bold commitment by Tearfund to stop using NDAs with immediate effect as well as its promise, if asked, to lift existing confidentiality clauses from anyone who has signed one as part of a settlement agreement,” the employee said. 

“Tearfund claims that it has never used a confidentiality clause to cover up wrongdoing and that they have been for the benefit of both parties. 

As a recipient of an NDA from Tearfund, I respectfully disagree on both points.”

The former employee said the Tearfund board had previously been asked to stop using NDAs. 

“I am intrigued by why Tearfund believes that NDAs are no longer 'the best way forward' and by implication, what it thinks the problem was with its previous position,” they said. 

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