How do I stop an employee from taking my clients with them when they leave?
Protecting the relationship between yourself and your clients when an employee leaves your company begins with the employment contract. The employment contract may contain restrictive covenants (i.e., non-solicitation clauses and non-competition clauses). A non-solicitation clause is a provision that restricts an employee from initiating contact with clients of your company for a certain amount of time after the employment relationship ends. A non-competition clause is a provision that prohibits the employee from engaging in work that is in competition with your business for a certain amount of time after the employment relationship ends.
In Ontario, there is a prohibition on non-competition clauses under the Employment Standards Act, with some exceptions (e.g., non-competition clauses are allowable for executive employment agreements such as for CEOs or COOs). However, non-solicitation clauses are permitted; that said, caution needs to be taken that a non-solicitation clause does not contain any language that may turn it into a non-competition clause (and therefore violate the ESA).