The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is contemplating a ban on non-compete agreements which have long dominated the white-collar job market.

Non-compete agreements are very common specifically in investing, technology, and client services industries where companies want to ensure that intellectual property, proprietary knowledge / practices and relationships are not stolen or given to a competitor. Non-competes are also used by restaurants and fast-food chains that want to protect proprietary recipes.

Non-competes are typically included as a clause in an employee agreement and state that an employee may not work for a competitor within a certain time period after leaving their current employer (typically range from 6 months to 2 years depending on seniority level and access to information / client base).

While Non-Competes were originally created to protect business trade secrets, they have increasingly received backlash because they block low-wage workers from changing jobs and ultimately limits their economic and career opportunities.

Research shows that at least one in five U.S. workers without a college education signs a non-compete agreement (and many are often not even aware). That's over 30 million low-wage workers with restricted job mobility. This is crucial because job hopping is one of the fastest ways workers increase their salary (above promotions).

FTC Chair Lina M. Khan issued a statement supporting the ban, "The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy...Non competes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand."

Non-competes are so controversial because they are difficult to challenge and often very broad / all encompassing. Many of these employees often don't have the time or resources to work with a labor lawyer and contest the agreement. Since employees voluntarily sign during start of employment it adds another layer of complexity.

It will be interesting to see what repercussions this has on employee compensation, retention efforts, and overall approach to hiring and training.