Anti-competitive behaviour: Guidance issued

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Anti-competitive behaviour: Guidance issued

Published 3 April 2023


Guidance issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) states that collusion between employers is illegal and warns of the financial and personal consequences of breaking the law. 

The three main types of anti-competitive behaviours in labour markets (which are all examples of business cartels) are:   

  • Non-poaching agreements, which occur when two or more businesses agree not to approach or hire each other’s employees (or not to do so without the other employer’s consent);
  • Wage-fixing agreements, which occur when two or more businesses agree to fix employees’ pay or other employee benefits. This includes agreeing the same wage rates or setting maximum caps on pay; and
  • Information sharing, which occurs when sensitive information about terms and conditions that a business offers to employees are shared between businesses. Not all illegal agreements or practices are in writing; they might take the form of informal practices - sometimes known as gentleman’s agreements. These agreements or practices might cover freelancers and contracted workers as well as permanent salaried staff.


This is a reminder to employers of the prohibition on these kinds of anti-competitive behaviour which those recruiting employees or sharing information in a market sector with competitors need to be mindful of. The guidance sets out steps that it recommends be taken to avoid breaking the law.  These include:

  • understanding how competition law applies to non-poaching and wage-fixing agreements;
  • not agreeing with a competitor to fix wages;
  • not agreeing with a competitor not to approach or hire each other’s employees;
  • not sharing sensitive information about their business or employees with a competitor;
  • providing recruitment staff with training on competition law and how it applies in the recruitment context; and
  • ensuring solid internal reporting processes are in place, and that staff are aware of these and how they can use them including raising issues under a whistleblowing procedure.

CMA Guidance | Employers advice on how to advoid anti-competitive behaviour (9 February 2023)


Hilary Larter

Hilary Larter


+44 (0)113 251 4710

Ceri Fuller

Ceri Fuller

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6583

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