Jun 11, 2015

Employee Handbooks in the cross hairs

Does your Employee Handbook require employees to keep their salary confidential? If it does, you may be violating – unintentionally – the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), federal legislation enacted in the 1930s, to protect the rights of employees and employers and regulate collective bargaining efforts in the United States. But, “we don’t have a union,” you protest. No matter. Section 7 of the NLRA protects all employees – union or non-union – who raise concerns about their workplace and its policies. But, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) does not want to leave employers, like you, up the proverbial litigation stream without a paddle. Its General Counsel, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., handed you a very helpful lifeline. This spring the NLRB posted a report (GC 15-04) from Mr. Griffin (click here), with examples of handbook provisions that need revision or should be eliminated to prevent employers from running afoul of the NLRA, along with legal commentary to explain why the changes are necessary. Even more unusual and helpful for a government agency, it also offered specific concrete examples of acceptable provisions to guide your review.

Mr. Griffin’s report is full of useful examples and explanations designed to help legal practitioners and their employer clients avoid missteps in the drafting and implementation of employee handbooks. It was, however, written by a lawyer to be consumed by a lawyer, which means that it is a bit tough to get through and even when you do, it contains caveats and exceptions that you should explore with the help of your legal professionals. For a brief sample scenario, click here.

Although the NLRB’s report was offered with the very best intentions to afford helpful and concrete advice on employee policies and practices, it can be confusing. We strongly encourage you to work with your attorneys to make sure that you make the best use of this valuable resource. Because frankly, now that it has been made available, not following it will only make you and your handbook more susceptible to challenges. “Why didn’t you correct your policies, Mr. Employer? We showed you how to make the changes.” Give your legal professionals a call and let them help.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.

Client Alert authored by: Jeralyn Baran