Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that the policies in the handbook are consistent with the company’s current practices and in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
It is especially important to review your employee handbook this year for two BIG reasons: the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB” or the “Board”) recent decision in Stericyle, Inc. and the continued growth of remote employees working in different states.
In the Stericyle, Inc. decision, the NLRB found that employer handbook policies that have “a reasonable tendency to chill employees from exercising” their rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA” or “Act”), including the right to discuss wages and terms and conditions of employment, can violate the Act, unless the policies advance legitimate and substantial business interests that cannot be achieved by more narrowly tailored rules. Specifically, the Board took issue with policies stating that employees could not (1) take pictures or video or audio recordings of company property, operations, or equipment without permission, (2) disclose harassment complaints and the terms of their resolution, or (3) engage in behavior that was damaging to the company’s reputation or adversely reflected upon the integrity of the company, because employees could reasonably interpret the policies as prohibiting Section 7 activity. Given the new employee-friendly standard adopted by the Board in Stericyle, Inc. and the renewed scrutiny of employer policies, it is imperative for employers to review their handbooks to avoid NLRA violations.
It is also imperative for employers with employees in different states to review their handbooks for compliance with the laws of the states in which their employees work. Laws on important employee rights — such as paid sick leave, family and medical leave, jury duty leave, school leave, meal and rest breaks, overtime pay, vacation payout, and final paychecks — vary from state to state and are frequently changing. Employers need to compare their handbook policies with the laws of the states in which their employees work to ensure that the employees are receiving the rights and benefits to which they are entitled under applicable state law.
Please contact Rachel Felton of the Metz Lewis employment law group or your Metz Lewis contact to learn more.
This post was written by Rachel Felton