What is Job Poaching? Legal or Illegal in India?

When an employee possesses highly looked-up after skills and experience, it is common for companies to want to attract these employees so they can have better talent at their organization.

You will be able to get more attention from organizations if you have these skills. They will be willing to pay you more and provide you with more benefits if you join. Employee poaching is normal in today’s HRM system.

In this article, you will understand what job poaching is, the benefits of employee poaching, and the differentiations between recruiting & Poaching or headhunting. We will also look at the legal clauses in India regarding job poaching and provide a list of strategies companies can use to prevent Poaching.

What is Job Poaching?

Job poaching (employee poaching) or talent poaching is recruiting employees who work at competitive organizations.

The following examples of employee poaching will give you an idea of how it works.

  • Headhunting
  • Offering higher packages
  • Better growth opportunities
  • Exceptional perks and perquisites

Job Poaching in Recruitment

Some companies that have open to recruiting and finding skilled talent in their organization usually fill some of their vacancies by poaching or raiding their competitors.

They draw competitors’ employees with better offers, prerequisites, and benefits to joining their organization which employee loves to accept. Many global companies practice talent poaching as an effective way to hunt for highly-skilled talent.

Recruitment from your direct competitors, also called poaching talent, is one of the most effective strategies. Aside from improving your company’s bottom line, recruiting talent from your competitors can offer fresh ideas, new perspectives, and up-to-date experience.

Benefits of Job Poaching

  • It’s a win-win game for both employer and employee because the employer gets better talent, and the employee gets better packages and benefits.
  • Poaching helps companies face competition and increase profits by reallocating resources. However, both companies can lose revenue if they use the same strategies. Mutual Poaching can lead to higher revenues and market survival.
  • To survive in today’s competitive market, companies need skilled employees. Recruitment through traditional methods has become difficult, leading companies to consider poaching from competitors for potentially better sales and revenue.
  • Experienced talent is knowledgeable about industry trends and best practices. Poaching from competitors can bring fresh perspectives to a company’s practices.
  • When a top candidate leaves a company to join yours, it may encourage other like-minded individuals and customers to follow, leading to increased productivity and improved financial performance.

The distinction between Recruiting and Poaching

Poaching falls under Recruiting, but both activities are considered hiring protocols. But they differ in their approach, ethical considerations, and other aspects. What are they?

The approach

In Recruiting typically involves creating job postings and sourcing candidates through various channels like job boards or portals, career fairs, and social media.

While on the other hand, Poaching involves targeting specific employees who are already employed at other companies and attempting to persuade them to leave their current jobs.

Timing Criteria

Recruiting is typically done when an organization has an open position that has to be filled.

Whereas, Poaching can be done at any time, even if there aren’t any openings available.

Ethical Considerations

Recruitment is an ethical hiring practice and it involves a fair method of selecting talent without discrimination.

On the other side, Poaching is unethical, especially if it involves breaching confidentiality and violating non-compete agreements from a competitor.

Legal Considerations

Recruiting is legal as long as it doesn’t involve any illegal or discriminatory practices.

But as Poaching, it can be legally risky, especially if it involves soliciting employees who have signed non-compete agreements or stealing trade secrets.


The goal is to find the best fit for the organization’s open position in recruitment.

Weather, In Poaching, The goal is to persuade another organization’s employee to join your organization.

Organizations should weigh the benefits and risks of each method before deciding which approach to use.

Difference between Headhunting and Poaching?

A number of talent acquisition managers and recruitment professionals are having difficulty distinguishing between the two concepts. Here are some notable distinctions between headhunting and Poaching (talent acquisition).

  • A headhunt usually involves finding senior profiles, while talent poaching involves acquiring talented individuals from a competitor’s firm.
  • In contrast, talent poaching involves a broad and opportunistic approach, while headhunting is targeted and selective.
  • The process of headhunting is strategic and planned, while the act of talent poaching is direct and targeted.
  • Headhunting focuses on finding the best candidate for an organization, while talent poaching seeks to gain a competitive edge by acquiring the best talent from rivals.
  • Getting an experienced executive with leadership skills a global exposure is what headhunters do while saving talent costs is what poachers do.

We hope this can help you understand both the concepts of Poaching and Headhunting.

Job Poaching Laws in India / Lawsuit

Indian Contract Act, 1872; Section 27

This section clarifies that every agreement by which anyone is inhibited from exercising a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind, is to that extent void.

In India, companies of the same industry can sign No-Poaching Agreement to prevent Poaching practices.

But, remember,

If an employee directly applies for the vacancy in the competing company, it would not be regarded as Poaching.

As an Employer, How to Deal with Employee Poaching?

First, we need to know what makes an employee vulnerable to Poaching.

Competitor firms often offer more attractive benefits, higher salaries, or promotions to attract departing employees. It is common to compete for firms to make lucrative offers with better benefits to lure departing employees.

Top Employees often leave your company for the following reasons:

  • Lack of autonomy and trust
  • Untrustworthiness
  • Not being recognized
  • Lack of growth and opportunity

Strategies to Prevent Employee Poaching.

  • Conducting regular surveys to find any factor which can make your top employees vulnerable.
  • Identification of employees’ reason for dissatisfaction
  • Taking preventive measures for their aspects of dissatisfaction
  • Address the factors effectively which can make top employees vulnerable to poaching.
  • Communication with an open mind and frankly about their growth.
  • Appreciation for their contribution to the organization.

Alternatives to Job Poaching

The ultimate weapon against employee poaching is a solid employee retention plan that ensures packages are competitive and seeks high employee engagement. But these aren’t the only steps some employers will take to retain employees.

There are some Alternatives to Employee Poaching:

  • Recruiting potential employees through job boards and social media
  • Take referrals from existing employees
  • Talent pipelines like top Universities and Colleges, build relations with them
  • Training and development programs to build strong skillset of employees
  • Through networking, attend industrial events to connect with potential talents and build relations with professionals in your field.


Job poaching is the act of poaching another employee from their current job in order to join your company. When done illegally, employee poaching can result in legal complications if the employee is not a good fit for your company. By understanding what job poaching is, the benefits of employee poaching, and the differentiations between recruiting & poaching or headhunting, you can stay safe and legal when conducting this type of business activity. If you have any questions or concerns about job poaching in India, please feel free to comment below and we would be happy to help.