Recruiting and retaining talented workers can take a considerable amount of time, money and effort. To ensure employees do not leave to start competing ventures or to work for a competitor, you can probably ask them to sign noncompete agreements. 

Sometimes called covenants not to compete, noncompete agreements must be reasonable in geographic area, duration and scope to be enforceable. Still, as a matter of law and public policy, noncompete agreements for four classes of professional workers are not usually enforceable in Massachusetts. 

1. Doctors and nurses

Skilled doctors and nurses are essential for promoting good public health across the commonwealth. Yet, Massachusetts has regularly experienced a shortage in the number of health care professionals. This is especially true in rural areas. 

Freeing doctors and nurses from noncompete agreements ensures residents have access to vital health care services. 

2. Attorneys

Whether they are fighting criminal charges, closing on a real estate deal, patenting an invention or undertaking any other legal proceeding, individuals often need the assistance of an experienced attorney. Because noncompete agreements may drive lawyers away, they are not permissible for members of the bar. 

3. Social workers

Public and private social workers connect Bay Staters with important social services. They also help at-risk individuals take advantage of the commonwealth’s social safety net. Because every person who needs a social worker should have access to one, noncompete agreements may not cover social workers. 

4. Broadcasters

The public has an interest in receiving reliable and prompt news reports. Without competition, meaningful news may dwindle or cease altogether. Therefore, if you work in broadcasting in Boston or anywhere else Massachusetts you probably cannot enforce a noncompete agreement.