19 Oct Handbook Updates
When you’re updating your employee handbook this year, make sure your social media policy doesn’t cross any of the lines drawn by the pro-union group, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has established precedents for going after companies that limit employee’s rights to discuss their pay, working conditions or supervisors. We recommend checking the following policies:
- Discussing Pay: Most of us agree that discussing each other’s pay rate is a bad idea, but it’s allowed and, according to the NLRB, should not be prohibited by any policy.
- If you include “financial data” or “financial records” in your list of information that should be covered by the confidentiality policy, the NLRB argues that payroll data could be included in those terms and the limitations would violate their regs. Instead, define the specific financial information that needs to be confidential, and leave wages out of it.
- Social Media and Internet Use: If you have language that limits an employee’s ability to complain about work or about her supervisor, consider removing it. This is a tricky area, and if you don’t include a disclaimer in your policy, here’s a sample from Kelly Charles-Collins, employment attorney with Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP:
- “Nothing in [Company’s] social media policy is designed to interfere with, restrain, or prevent employee communications regarding wages, hours or other terms and conditions of employment. [Company] employees have the right to engage in or refrain from such activities.”
- If you’d like to remain union-free, consider including the following statement provided by Greg Hare, employment attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.:
- “[Company] prefers to communicate with our employees directly without any third party intervention. Placing a union between employees and management adversely impacts this direct relationship. We believe that through open and direct communications and treating people with respect and dignity, employee and workplace issues can be addressed and resolved together. We will always work hard to be deserving of that confidence.”
Resource Alliance takes the time to review every word of our client handbooks and update them to avoid liability. These are just a few tips to help stay out of trouble.
Scott Mastley, SPHR, MBA, is the Vice President of Human Resources for Resource Alliance.
Scott is a consultant, not an attorney, so he shares his opinions, not legal advice, about increasing performance and limiting liability.