This is an issue that rears its head very regularly. The employer has invested a lot of time and resources in training the employee and providing that employee with experience that ultimately would be attractive to competitors. The general approach to such covenants is that the narrower the restriction the more likely such covenants will bind the employee. To illustrate that point, if the period of the non-compete clause is six months, as opposed to twelve months, and refers only to a competitor in, say, a local town as opposed to the entire State, then it is more likely that the restrictive covenant will bind the employee. That can fairly be described as the general approach of the law, but of course much depends on the facts of each case, and two cases illustrate that point.
In a recent Irish case the judgment does in my view illustrate the difficulties for employers. In that case the employee worked for a telecommunications company and there was clause in the contract that restricted him from working for a competitor for a period of 6 months. He was offered employment by a direct competitor,and gave notice of his resignation