Q. What is the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule regarding notifying employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act?
A. Under the new rule, employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—which covers virtually every private employer—are required to post a notice to employees describing their rights under the NLRA.
The poster explains employees’ rights to “organize and bargain collectively with their employers, and to engage in other protected concerted activity or to refrain from engaging in any of the above activity.”
It also provides a comprehensive list of employer and union conduct prohibited by the NLRA.
The notice advises employees to contact the NLRB if they believe their rights have been violated.
It informs employees that the NLRB may order an employer to rehire a worker fired in violation of the law and to pay lost wages and benefits, and may order an employer or union to stop violating the law.
In addition to physically posting the notice, employers that regularly communicate notices to employees through web or intranet pages must also publish the notice using those media.
Employers originally had to display the poster by Nov. 14. That has now been extended to Jan. 31, 2012.
How does the ruling affect employers?Q. As a practical matter, will this ruling create additional liability for employers?
A. The new rule significantly expands the NLRB’s role from that of an agency that steps in only to adjudicate unlawful conduct, to that of an agency that monitors employers.
Moreover, the new rule implements as standard practice the posting of notices informing employees of their rights under the NLRA, a practice normally employed as a sanction to remedy unfair labor practices charges.
The new rule threatens three forms of reprisal for employers that do not timely comply with its posting requirements:
- The new rule makes it an independent, actionable unfair labor practice for an employer to fail to comply with its posting requirements.
- It authorizes the NLRB to make an unfair labor practice charge when the employer has failed to post the notice.
- It encourages the NLRB to consider an employer’s knowing and willful refusal to comply with the posting requirement to be evidence of unlawful anti-union animus in adjudicating unfair labor practice charges.
How could the poster affectQ. It seems like this rule was designed to encourage unionization. What should employers do to protect themselves? ?
A. Because employees will now be more informed about their rights under the NLRA, employers should act now to comply with the new rule—and prepare their workplaces for increased union activity. Employers should ensure their nonsolicitation, nondistribution and other union-related policies are up-to-date and NLRA-compliant.
Make sure your general employment policies are current and lawful.
Retrain HR and-level employees to make sure they are familiar with the NLRA, other key employment laws and your various employment policies.
You may also want to revisit your position on union representation and solidify your strategy for dealing with organizing drives, concerted employee activity and other issues that might crop up more frequently as a result of the new rule.
Finally, continue to identify, reduce and eliminate the root causes of employee dissatisfaction that increase the likelihood of a successful union-organizing drive.
Where can I get more information?
A. Employers can download the poster from the NLRB website (www.nlrb.gov/poster) and print it on an 11-by-17-inch sheet or two 8.5-by-11-inch sheets taped together.
Employers can also obtain the poster from any of the NLRB’s regional offices.
Find links to the poster download and other official NLRB information at www.theHRSpecialist.com/unionposter.
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