Ever consider chilling out with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)? While I think it would be enlightening, it certainly wouldn’t rate very high on my fun meter. They apparently also don’t want your employees to chill out either as they have issued guidelines for those work rules that they perceive have the potential of creating a “chilling effect” on an employee’s willingness to exercise his/her rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Their guidelines significantly broaden the scope of rules that are now considered unlawful under this new interpretation of the act. As an example, the NLRB has shared examples of work rules which they consider to be unacceptable, such as:

“Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.”

I know what you’re thinking, what could possibly be wrong with this rule? The NLRB believes that its overly broad language could dissuade employees from talking among themselves, to their leaders, or a third party (think unions) about issues relating to working conditions, rates of pay, benefits, or other protected topics under the act.

They also identified some other land mine areas in your policies and work rules:

  • Confidentiality policies that limit information shared by employees or that direct employees not to speak to third parties.
  • Social media policies that limit employees from engaging in online discussions about their conditions of employment.
  • Leaving the premises or no call/no show work rules which could be perceived as limiting employees’ rights to stage a walk out or strike.
  • Working together/open communications work rules and policies that inhibit open dialogue because they may be perceived as limiting discussions about conditions of employment.

As you can see, these are significant changes to work rules that have been in effect since the days of the invention of the personnel department.

While it’s a lengthy document, the best source we’ve found on this topic came from the NLRB and can be accessed here:

http://1.usa.gov/1Bnys74

If you would like help making certain that your handbook is up to date with these new changes, just let us know.

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