The new requirement makes good on one of President Obama’s first acts after taking office in January 2009. Executive Order 13496 reversed the Bush administration’s policy of discouraging contractors’ employees from unionizing. Instead it required contractors to post information explicitly spelling out employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Now that the required public comment period has ended, it’s official. Most federal contractors must put up the new “Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act” poster.
It’s available to download for free from the web site of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Nixon Peabody employment law attorney John N. Raudabaugh calls the official notice “decidedly pro-organizing.” It details employee rights to:
- Organize or join a union
- Engage in collective bargaining
- Discuss terms and conditions of employment with co-workers
- Take action to improve working conditions without fear of retaliation
- Go on strike.
Where, how to post
The notice must be conspicuously posted for the duration of a federal contract or subcontract, usually in the same place employers display other required federal employment law notices. Employers that customarily only post required notices electronically may do so, but there are specific criteria for how to do that.
The final rule implementing the notice requirement seems to suggest that posting is only required at facilities where employees are engaged in work directly related to the federal contract.
Some contractors are exempt, including those with:
- Contracts worth less than $100,000
- Subcontracts worth $10,000 or less.
Penalties for noncompliance
Ignore this posting requirement at your peril. Contractors that fail to post the new notice can have their contracts cancelled and could be disbarred from bidding on future contracts. The OFCCP is charged with enforcing the requirement.
The federal officials who manage your contract can offer additional guidance on how to comply.