Skip to Main Content

Employee Handbooks

Employee Handbooks - Michigan Human Resources Blog - Sage Solutions Group - Generic_Handbook_Graphic

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has increased its attention and focus on employee handbooks recently. While most think of the NLRB in terms of unionized employers, its jurisdiction also impacts non- union employers as well. Many companies rely on outdated handbooks that could be in violation of the current NLRB guidelines. For example, if your handbook has policies that violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act you could be in for some legal trouble. Section 7 allows employees the right to join together to improve their pay and working conditions. The fact is, many startup companies and small to medium businesses often do not have human resource departments (or personnel trained in the human resource arena) to monitor changing laws and regulations. As a result, handbooks can be quickly outdated and out of compliance leaving the company ripe for a potential lawsuit. 

To help employers, the NLRB issued some "Do’s and Don’ts" when it comes to company policies and handbooks. Many of these rules stem from laws preventing employers from restricting employees’ rights to protected concerted activity. If you are saying to yourself, “I wouldn’t do that”, or “I don’t have to worry about that”, you are likely very wrong. There can be very subtle differences in how a policy is written when determining if the policy violates the law. When writing policies and procedures, a general rule to consider is never write a policy that imposes a blanket restriction on employee actions. Instead, polices should be written so the undesirable activity is clearly explained and the restrictions on the behavior are not too broad. 

Here are some examples the NLRB published to illustrate illegally written policies your company should avoid:
  1. “No defamatory, libelous, slanderous or discriminatory comments about the Company, its customers and/or competitors, its employees or management.'”
  2. “Do not make statements “that damage the Company or the Company’s reputation or that disrupt or damage the Company’s business relationships.”
  3. “Refrain from any action that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the Company’s business or reputation.”
While this language seems appropriate and any employer would want to discourage this type of behavior, they need to be very cautious with this type of a broadly written policy. 
According to the NLRB, these policies are unlawful because they would ban protected criticism or protests regarding their supervisors, management, or the employer in general, or they require that employees refrain from criticizing the employer in public. Both of these actions are protected by law (Griffin 2015).  
What does this mean for you? If your employee handbook lists these types of activities as grounds for termination, you could be in for a legal fight. While the NLRB does not fine employers, if the employer violates the employee’s Section 7 rights, a terminated employee could be returned to work with back pay and benefits.  

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your company’s handbook, Sage Solutions Group is here to help. We offer individualized plans to help companies create or update handbooks that are in compliance with the current guidelines. 

USA. NLRB. General Counsel. Report of the General Counsel Concerning Employer Rules. By Richard F. Griffin. N.p., 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.


A Time To Celebrate. But!

Michigan will open on June 22nd to full capacity and the mask mandate is no longer required for residents.  YES!  It has been a long hard road for most all businesses.  Time to rip off that mask and celebrate?  Not so...

How to Lose Thousands of Dollars in Just One Day

The year 2021 is already proving to be a complex one for business owners.  There’s extended closures, new laws and rules to consider, PPP round two, and last but certainly not least, extremely sophisticated hackers looking to steal your...

COVID-19 Pandemic: Return To Work Plan

8 Tips for Bringing Your Employees Back to Work Safely and Successfully Now that more and more businesses are re-opening, it's important to understand how to safely bring your employees back to work. Here are 8 tips to keep in...

The New Form I- 9- What You Need to Know

  As of January 31, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the release of the new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. While this form is ready for...

What’s the 4-1-1 on the 2020 W-4?

Recently the IRS released the official W-4 that will be used starting January 1, 2020. The new form “uses the same underlying information as the old design, but it replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make...
Page: 1234 - All