You may want to include a review of your employee handbook in your “spring cleaning” this year.
Employee handbooks and work policies have been at the forefront of the National Labor Relations Board’s mind recently. The Board has held that a work rule may violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act if the rule has a “chilling effect” on employees’ Section 7 activity – whether it be union activity or simply discussing the terms and conditions of employment with one another. According to the Board, a work rule not only violates the Act if it explicitly restricts this protected activity, but also if it: (1) can be reasonably construed by its language to prohibit protected activity; (2) was promulgated in response to union or other protected activity; or (3) was actually applied to restrict the exercise of the protected rights.
Earlier this spring, the Board’s General Counsel issued a detailed report providing examples of unlawful policies as well as their lawful counterparts. The report discusses:
- Confidentiality Rules
- Rules Regarding Employee Conduct toward the Company and Supervisors
- Rules Regulating Conduct Towards Fellow Employees
- Rules Regarding Employee Interactions with Third Parties
- Rules Restricting Use of Company Logos, Copyrights, and Trademarks
- Rules Restricting Photography and Recording
- Rules Restricting Employees from Leaving Work
- Conflict-of-Interest Rules
The full text of the report can be found at: http://www.nlrb.gov/reports-guidance/general-counsel-memos.
In light of this report, we recommend that you carefully review all of your policies, with particular emphasis on the ones listed above.