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Discussion:HRB Non-compete clause

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Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 18, 2009
I'm going to need some help next tax season (unless the wheels really come off of the local economy), so I contacted HRB about their class. I want(ed)to send my likely future employee to the individual tax preparation class.

I was informed by the franchisee of HRB office I spoke to that students are required to sign a 'non-compete' agreement stating they will not go to work for someone else, EVEN IF HRB DOESN'T OFFER THEM A JOB.

Is that legally enforceable? I can wrap my mind around it IF HRB offered work to the student, but if HRB doesn't..... I can somewhat see their point; they don't charge that much for the class, don't want to train the competition etc, but still. She said it was on HRB's website; I haven't checked today, but sure didn't see it last week when I was surfing around.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

18 August 2009
It probably isn't enforceable, BUT what does a $10 an hour employee think? He/she doesn't think that he/she can fight HRB. Perception is reality.

In our area, we were told that if the instructor finds out that a student works for a competitor, the student is expelled from the class with no refund.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

18 August 2009
what would be enforceable is the revealing of 'trade secrets' like their pricing, customer list, way the software works.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

August 18, 2009
Wow. And here I thought the best training was provided by HRB and pros were regularly sent there for that training. Indeed, I see HRB advertise the classes, usually coming up in a month or so?, and I thought, to anyone who wanted to come and able to pay?

Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 18, 2009
(You mean, like that HRB per form speadsheet I have.....<w>)

So if my prospective employee doesn't start working for me until after the class is over (why, that would even be next year when I think about it  :-) , no problema.

Guess you're right, those $ 10/hour (plus commission on how many can you do in a day without any review) employees probably don't question things quite like I do.

Whew, I was afraid I was going to have to muster up the time & inclination to teach a class myself.

Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 18, 2009
JR1 - my thoughts also.

The employee I'm replacing went to the HRB class two years ago (and yes, they seem to start in early Sept.) I'm going to have to ask her if she signed a non-compete agreement....I do remember that she was offered a job by them; but she wasn't comfortable with the commission format/get as many done as possible as fast as possible scenario. I'm quite bummed she's not going to be with me next tax season - great employee and great tax preparer.

LM 35EA (talk|edits) said:

18 August 2009
I use to work for Block part time when I was in law school years ago. I do not know what their policy is now. But I know there was a non-compete clause if you worked for them, not to compete or in the same district for the next two years. Also not to solicit none of your from clients. I did not finish law school, but I would really doubt they can stop you from working for someone else.

Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 18, 2009
I agree.

I'm curious if the franchisee I talked to 'miss-understands', or if it goes further up the corporate ladder. I'm still planning on sending someone to the class; so we shall see. I'll try to remember to report back in on my findings.

KeithR (talk|edits) said:

18 August 2009
Would it cost that much more to send the employee on a community college course? I know several CC's around here offer a basic class in federal taxation. Granted, you probably don't get the exposure to form-filling by hand that the Block course does, but it may fill a need.

Just a thought.

Tabbott (talk|edits) said:

19 August 2009
In my personal experience, it seemed like Block was primarily interested in making sure I didn't sit through their class and then go across the street and work for Liberty or Jackson Hewitt.

After I completed their tax class they were interested in hiring me, but the pay plan made it a non-starter. I informed the district manager that I would be pursuing other opportunities, and he made some sort of comment about the non-compete and I answered "Oh yeah......?" (with as much contempt as I could convey over the phone - he was aware of my views on the pay situation). He then mumbled something weakly about really having no way of enforcing the non-compete.

Belle - I don't think you will have any issues whatsoever.

Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 19, 2009
Thanks, Tabbott, for the personal experience input. I have sent people to the class in years past, but honestly don't know if this issue came up or not. The comment just took me by surprise yesterday; and it seems so un-enforceable.

Keith - the cost isn't as big of an issue as is availability. I practice in a semi-rural area; beautiful but limited resources.

GoalieEd (talk|edits) said:

20 August 2009
Disclosure: I'm a HRB EA.

There has been a competitor exclusion since HRB switched from the classic income tax course to the basic building blocks in 2006. The class is not open for anyone who is either already employed with a competitor, or is planning on seeking employment with a competitor. The exclusion ends at the end of the basic building blocks class. If the student proceeds to employment with HRB, then they will sign a separate contract that has a separate (and more stringent) non-compete agreement.

Each student is required to sign a notification of the policy/agreement. Here's the part of it that covers this:

Exclusions from this course: This course is not intended for, nor open to, any persons who are either currently employed by or seeking employment with any professional tax preparation company or organization other than H&R Block. During the course, should H&R Block learn of any student’s employment or intended employment with a competing professional tax preparation company or service, H&R Block reserves the right to immediately cancel the student’s enrollment. In the event of such cancellation, the student will not be entitled to a refund of tuition or book fees

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

August 20, 2009
Thanks for that clarification!

Belle (talk|edits) said:

August 20, 2009
Ed - Thank you. That time line explains it all.

Zip2001 (talk|edits) said:

2 September 2009
Block spends the first hour having everyone get acquainted by talking about themselves. If you don’t bring it up they ask what you do for a living. Someone always mentions they work for a CPA etc and is invited to leave. The correct answer is, “All my life I’ve dreamed of working for H&R Block, but for now I operate a hot dog pushcart.”

The Block tax course ‘non-compete’ penalty is limited to ejection and loss of any refund.

Block doesn’t want to train their competition.

Ksnoopytax (talk|edits) said:

19 August 2010
I know my firm has sent people to their class. I guess this must be new? It's been quite awhile since we have.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

19 August 2010
It wasn't a policy when I took the 2005 course. In the first class, I had mentioned that my husband and I had a small company that did taxes and I wanted a refresher because I hadn't done taxes in years. They also had some advanced classes that non employees could take. The last time I checked their website, I saw that policy and I couldn't find any advanced classes.

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