Is Your Company’s Employee Handbook Up To Date?

Did you know that something as simple as a handbook policy could actually violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)?

Over the last several years the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been taking a closer look at company policies and rules to determine if the policies hinder an employee’s Section 7 rights to “concerted activity”. The first place that the NLRB will look for evidence of this violation is in employee handbooks.

We find that while many of our clients have good intentions of outlining company expectations in an employee handbook, unfortunately they tend to contain outdated practices and/or policies that are contrary to current laws and regulations. One policy in particular that we commonly find outdated is one that prohibits employees from discussing confidential information.

For example, a recent court case involving Flex Frac Logisitics v. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) serves as a reminder to employers that such a simple statement about confidentiality can put an employer in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. According to the NLRA, employees have the right to “concerted activity” which requires employers to allow employees the opportunity to express concerns or take action regarding the terms or conditions of their employment and working conditions.

In this case, Flex Frac Logisitics had an employee handbook which included a confidentiality agreement. The agreement stated that the disclosure of confidential information could lead to termination, as well as possible legal action. Even though the policy did not specifically refer to wages or specific terms and conditions of employment, the NLRA felt the clause was in violation because it was overly broad and contained language which could reasonably be interpreted as restricting the exercise of the employees’ Section 7 rights under the act.

That said, it is difficult for employers to know just where the line is between a lawful and an unlawful policy. The bottom line is that employers should be familiar with the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act and ensure that their handbooks reflect the appropriate language.

For questions regarding the National Labor Relations Act, or if you would like information regarding our handbook rewriting service, please contact J.W. Terrill’s Human Resources consulting group at hrconsulting@jwterrill.com.

For more information on the National Labor Relations Board, click here: http://www.nlrb.gov.

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About Michelle Perris

Michelle joined the Human Resources Consulting team with J.W. Terrill in 2012 and has over 8 years’ of experience in the in the Human Resources industry as a generalist including a strong focus on key HR practices including full cycle talent acquisition, employee relations, onboarding, compensation planning, performance management and the development of training programs. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and is a member of the Society for Human Resources (SHRM).

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