Government plans to cut red tape may present a challenge to plumbing and heating employers, according to the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC).

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has promised to address employment rules that prevent employees from starting up their own business after leaving a job. 'Non-compete clauses' can currently be added to employment contracts, preventing individuals from competing against their former employer or working for a competitor for a set period of time. Government is now launching a call for evidence, asking individuals and employers whether this type of practice is acting as a barrier to innovation and employment.

The move forms part of the government's Innovation Plan, which covers areas such as how better regulation can drive innovation and opportunities to use the millions of pounds spent on public procurement every year to support new and exciting businesses. The survey, launched online this week, will be asking businesses for their ideas on how to ensure the plan is a success.

Mr Javid said: "Home to some of the most innovative companies in Europe, Britain is already ahead of the curve in many ways when it comes to driving forward new ideas. […] But I am clear that I want to see more enterprising start-ups and greater productivity in a free and fair marketplace, by making sure we take action to break down any barriers that are curbing innovation and entrepreneurship."

As well as asking businesses for their views on the impact of non-compete causes, the government is seeking opinions on how it can improve services, drive growth and create jobs. The survey results will be used to inform the Innovation Plan, which will set out opportunities for innovation and new technologies open to British businesses.

John Thompson, chief executive at APHC, said: "Reforms to non-compete clauses would present employers in our industry with a significant challenge, with the constant threat of employees taking advantage of the skills and experience they have acquired in their time at a company to purloin its customer base.

"As a result, it’s incredibly likely that employee training and development would be stifled, disadvantaging members of our industry as they attempt to progress in their careers. However, we would certainly encourage members of the plumbing and heating industry to provide their feedback via the new survey, which will feed into plans to improve innovation in businesses across the UK."

The survey can be accessed at