Follow Geoffrey Linkedin Facebook
Email Geoffrey Email
Human Resources
Aug 16, 2016

Is Your Employee Handbook Labor Relations-Ready?

Sponsored Content provided by Geoffrey Losee - Partner, Rountree Losee LLP

Any chance your business has a policy prohibiting employees from discussing their salaries and benefits?  Or perhaps you have a personnel file policy stating that all information, including salary, contained in personnel files is confidential?  You also may have a policy that prohibits employees from soliciting or posting on bulletin boards.  And you likely have a policy giving employees direction on how they may and may not discuss the workplace in their social media activity.

Because many employers review their handbooks infrequently, obtain their handbooks from internet sources that may not be current or have not updated their policies to account for changes in social media habits, it is not unusual to find these policies in place.  However, all of the ones mentioned above raise red flags for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). 

You might be thinking, We are not a union shop; why does the NLRB matter to us?  The NLRB is tasked with ensuring that no employer violates an employee’s right to "engage in concerted activities."  Employees “engage in concerted activities” when their conduct could lead to a decision to unionize.  This fairly broad definition includes discussing the terms of the workplace, such as salary and satisfaction with supervisors. 

The NLRB’s reach is currently quite long.  Employers should check their policies to assure that no policies chill discussion among employees regarding their work conditions.  Employers should also assure that supervisors are trained on what these policies mean. 

As a practical matter, it is acceptable to have policies that protect employee privacy, such as a policy limiting access to personnel files.  But employers should not categorically classify salary information as confidential.  And while employers may reasonably restrict solicitation in the workplace to protect employees from becoming objects of financial or other personally intrusive pursuits, employers should not categorically prohibit solicitation.  The NLRB likely would construe this as an effort to prevent union organizing.

What may be most on your mind are your social media standards.  These policies should be carefully drafted and account for real concerns in the employer’s workplace.  For example, employees may be prohibited from violating central employer policies, such as professionalism, anti-violence and anti-harassment, in their personal social media conduct.  In contrast, they should not be prohibited from identifying their employer and discussing their views of the workplace on social media.  As an example, the NLRB considers “liking” statements by other employees on Facebook a form of discussion about the workplace. 

Employers should keep an eye on the NLRB.  Its guidance is not always affirmed by the courts, but it has worked actively for several years to increase its role in shaping employer policies.  Stay current, don’t rely on policies that have not been personalized to your workplace and avoid inappropriate control over employee communications.  These steps will not address every concern the NLRB directs toward employers, but they are a strong dose of prevention.
 

Rountree insights blk
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdhiztrkodm0lte2yjetngrkmy1hotrmltawmdvlmwqyztmymw

Getting A Jump On Job Skills

Diane Durance - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Headshot2 3182020512

Save On Cooling/Heating With Dual Zone HVAC Systems

Chris Jones - Green Dot Heating & Air
Aarp suzanneheadshot 300x300

Beware Of Work From Home Scams

Trending News

Fintech Company NCino Boosts Offering, Sets Valuation At More Than $1.9 Billion

Jenny Callison - Jul 7, 2020

From Car Dealers To Restaurants: Local Businesses Receive PPP Loans

Johanna Cano - Jul 7, 2020

Hospital Trustees Back Novant For Negotiations; Outline Possible Spending Plan

Vicky Janowski - Jul 7, 2020

New Eatery Welcomes Diners At Iconic Wrightsville Ave. Spot

Jessica Maurer - Jul 8, 2020

Mortgage Firm Relocating To Barclay Commons

Cece Nunn - Jul 6, 2020

In The Current Issue

The Financing Issues Driving NHRMC Talk

While stakeholders and the public in New Hanover County may differ on the best path toward a sustainable future for New Hanover Regional Med...


NHRMC Talks Include Focus On Education

Graduate medical education has been one of several issues hashed out as part of the re­cent negotiations over New Hanover Regional Medical C...


Industrial Sector Shines In Pender

Industrial commercial real estate gained more attention over the past few months as a sector that’s still doing well, despite an economic do...

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2020 Leadership Accelerator: Virtual Workshops for Real Leaders
2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`