BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A legislative effort to restrict non-compete clauses in employment contracts has fallen short.

State lawmakers failed to reach agreement on the bill Sunday in the closing hours of the formal 2015-2016 session on Beacon Hill.

Non-compete clauses restrict the ability of workers to leave a company and immediately go to work for or start a competing firm.

Start-up companies in Massachusetts have complained that it’s tough to get qualified workers because they’re tied up in non-compete agreements with bigger companies.

The House passed a bill during the session that would limit to 12 months the length of a non-compete clause. But the Senate went much further, limiting the duration to just three months.

State Representative John Scibak told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens that the House and Senate could not agree on the issue of compensation to employees, and said he’s not happy about it.

“Is that sufficient to basically squelch any possibility of reform, either for employers or employees relative to non-competes?” he said. “I think we’ve lost an opportunity.”

A House-Senate conference committee met over the weekend to try to hammer out a compromise, but was unsuccessful.

Companies defend non-competes as necessary to protect trade secrets and intellectual property, but critics say they stifle innovation and entrepreneurship.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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