Typically, a valid restraint of trade/non-competition covenant/non-solicitation clause in Singapore will have a duration varying from 3 months to 2 years. The restriction cannot be perpetual, as the courts will deem it unreasonable. However, the party who wishes to enforce such a clause must be ready to justify the period of time for which it will be valid. The longer the period within that timeframe, the harder it will be to prove to the court that it was reasonable and necessary to protect the business.
An employee cannot be restricted to the point of being unable to use his or her skills, experience, expertise, and general knowledge gathered while employed at your company, even if the employee may work for a competitor. Similarly, in the case of Lek Gwee Noi v Humming Flowers & Gifts Pte Ltd  SGHC 64, the Singapore High Court concluded that the covenant was void, as the 2-year duration was unreasonably long for the task of transferring connections to its other employees. The judge specified that the decision to enforce the clause in employee contracts is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as unique circumstances of each employee may alter the decision to deem a clause as being reasonable.
This guiding principle was recognized in 1999 in the English Court of Appeal’s decision – FSS Travel and Leisure Systems Ltd v Johnson  FSR 505, which was cited in the Singapore case of HRnet One Pte Lt v Choo Wai Ying Adrian  SGDC 202. In the Singapore case, the court concluded that the clause was void and invalid, as its primary goal was to inhibit competition.
As stated in the Singapore case, the law is well settled with regards to restrictive covenants in employment contracts:
(a) The court will never uphold a covenant taken by an employer merely to protect himself from competition by a former employee.
(b) There must be some subject matter which an employer can legitimately protect by a restrictive covenant. As was said by Lord Wilberforce in Stenhouse Ltd v Phillips  A.C. 391
“The employer’s claim for protection must be based upon the identification of some advantage or asset inherent in the business which can properly be regarded as, in a general sense, his property, and which it would be unjust to allow the employee to appropriate for his own purposes, even though he, the employee, may have contributed to its creation.”
(c) Protection can be legitimately claimed for identifiable objective knowledge constituting the employer’s trade secrets with which the employee has become acquainted during his employment.
(d) Protection cannot be legitimately claimed in respect of the skill, experience, know-how and general knowledge acquired by an employee as part of his job during his employment, even though that will equip him as a competitor, or potential employee of a competitor, of the employer.
(e) The critical question is whether the employer has trade secrets which can be fairly regarded as his property, as distinct from the skill, experience, know-how, and general knowledge which can fairly be regarded as the property of the employee to use without restraint for his own benefit or in the service of a competitor. This distinction necessitates examination of all the evidence relating to the nature of the employment, the character of the information, the restrictions imposed on its dissemination, the extent of use in the public domain and the damage likely to be caused by its use and disclosure in competition to the employer.
(f) It must be possible to identify information used in the relevant business, the use and dissemination of which is likely to harm the employer, and establish that the employer has limited dissemination and not, for example, encouraged or permitted its widespread publication. In each case it is a question of examining closely the detailed evidence relating to the employer’s claim for secrecy of information and deciding, as a matter of fact, on which side of the boundary line it falls. Lack of precision in pleading and absence of solid evidence in proof of trade secrets are frequently fatal to enforcement of a restrictive covenant.
Key Considerations When Drafting the Clause
1/ It is important to consider the geographic scope, along with the nature of the business, as well as the duties of the employee.
2/ It will be crucial to look at the scope of the activities exercised by the employee, as well as the duties undertaken, as well as the people he or she dealt with, the information accessed and acquired, and the extent of the employment duties.
3/ When deciding the length of the restraint imposed, your company needs to consider the skills of the employee, the nature of the specialization, and lastly the seniority of his or her position. It must be proportional with the time required to perform a particular task, or proportional relative to the employee’s skills.
All of these must be secondary to the business assets and information that must be protected.
For further information, feel free to read the cases mentioned above:
Lek Gwee Noi v Humming Flowers & Gifts Pte Ltd  SGHC 64
HRnet One Pte Lt v Choo Wai Ying Adrian  SGDC 202
Singapore – Enforceability Of Restraint Of Trade Clauses: An Update
Restraint of Trade Clauses in Employment Contracts
Singapore: Restrictive Covenants in Employment Contracts