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New Labor board rule: Pro-union posters up by November

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Most private employers will soon have to display a new poster in their workplaces that notifies employees of their right to form and join a union.

Starting Nov. 14, employers must display the poster “where other workplace notices are typically posted. Also, employers who customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules or policies on an internet or intranet site will be required to post the Board’s notice on those sites,” reads the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling.

The poster will state that employees have the right to act together to improve wages, to form or join a union and to bargain collectively with their employer—and to choose not to do any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.

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Q&A on the New Requirement
Adapted from a Q&A document published by the NLRB.

1. Does my company have to post the notice?

The posting requirement applies to all private-sector employers (including labor unions) subject to the National Labor Relations Act, which excludes agricultural, railroad and airline employers.

2. When do we have to post the notice?

The final rule takes effect 75 days after it is posted in the Federal Register, or on November 14, 2011.

3. There is no union in my workplace; do I still have to post the notice?

Yes. All employers subject to the Board’s jurisdiction (aside from the USPS) will be required to post the notice.

4. I am a federal contractor. Will I have to post the notice?

The Board’s notice posting rule will apply to federal contractors, who already are required by the Department of Labor to post a similar notice of employee rights.

5. I operate a small business. Will I have to post the Board’s notice?

The Board has chosen not to assert its jurisdiction over very small employers whose annual volume of business is not large enough to have more than a slight effect on interstate commerce.

6. How can I get the notice?

The Board will provide copies on request at no cost beginning on or before November 1, 2011. Employers can also download the notice from the Board’s website and print it out in color or black-and-white on one 11-by-17-inch paper or two 8-by-11-inch papers taped together.

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7. Do I have to communicate electronically?

Yes. In addition to the poster, you must post the notice on an internet or intranet site if one exists. Employers are not required to distribute the posting by email or other electronic means.

8. Many of my employees speak a language other than English. Will I still have to post the notice?

Yes. If at least 20% of employees are not proficient in English and speak the other language, you must also post the notice in that language. The Board will provide translations of the notice, and of the required link to the Board’s website, in the appropriate languages.

9. Will I have to maintain records or submit reports under the rule?

No, the rule has no record-keeping or reporting requirements.

10. How will the Board enforce the rule?

Failure to post the notice may be treated as an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act. The Board investigates allegations of unfair labor practices made by employees, unions, employers, or other persons, but does not initiate enforcement action on its own.

11. What are the consequences for failing to post the notice?

The Board expects that, in most cases, employers who fail to post the notice are unaware of the rule and will comply when requested by a Board agent. In such cases, the unfair labor practice case will typically be closed without further action. The Board also may extend the 6-month statute of limitations for filing a charge involving other unfair labor practice allegations against the employer. If an employer knowingly and willfully fails to post the notice, the failure may be considered evidence of unlawful motive in an unfair labor practice case involving other alleged violations of the NLRA.

12. Can an employer be fined for failing to post the notice?

No, the Board does not have the authority to levy fines.

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