Major Shift in Employee Handbook Regulations: What Employers in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Need to Know

As a business owner in North Carolina, it’s important to be updated about the ever-evolving employment laws, especially when it concerns your business. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently introduced major changes regarding employee handbooks. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new and how it may affect you.

The Background:

  • The NLRB has overturned the Boeing decision, which was the guiding principle for workplace conduct policies over the last six years.
  • The recent decision in Stericycle, Inc. is the new standard, putting the onus on employers to ensure their rules aren’t seen as infringing on employees’ rights.

Key Changes to Note:

  • New Analytical Approach: The board will now see if an employee could reasonably perceive a policy as restricting their rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Elimination of Boeing’s Three Categories: Policies will now be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, moving away from the broader categorization that Boeing introduced.
  • Elevated Employer Responsibility: If there’s ambiguity in rules, it’s the employer’s job to clarify. Ambiguities will be held against the employer.

Crucial Insights on the New Standard:

  • The board will adopt a case-by-case approach.
  • This standard applies retroactively, implying employers might want to revisit their existing policies.
  • Simply having a disclaimer in your handbook might not be enough anymore.

Policies Under the Scanner:

Under the Stericycle standard, here are a few examples of policies could be flagged as unlawful:

  • Workplace Civility Rules: Policies that dictate professional behavior, ban recording of coworkers, or provide guidelines for communication might be seen as limiting employees’ rights.
  • Loitering Rules: Blanket rules against off-duty loitering may now be questionable unless backed by legitimate business reasons.
  • Restrictions on Strikes and Slowdowns: Policies that outrightly ban strikes or work slowdowns will come under close scrutiny.
  • Cell Phone and Video Recording Restrictions: Companies will need to rethink blanket bans on recording and require a more nuanced approach.

What’s Next for Employers?

As the landscape of employment regulations shifts, there’s a growing indication that we might be reverting to rulings reminiscent of the Obama-era Board, especially in areas such as social media, confidentiality, and general workplace conduct. To navigate these dynamic regulations, it’s crucial for employers to work closely with their HR teams and seek expertise from legal professionals. While the future remains uncertain regarding any appeals to this decision, it’s anticipated that regional agency offices will be embracing the new standard.

Act Now for Your Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Business

If you are an employer in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, it’s imperative to adapt quickly to these changes. Avoid potential legal pitfalls by ensuring that your employee handbook and workplace policies align with the latest NLRB mandates.

Don’t navigate these turbulent waters alone. If you need help in creating or updating your employee handbook, Hammer Law can help. Reach out today to schedule a consultation. We’re here to guide and protect your business every step of the way!

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Hammer Law PLLC is not a litigation firm.  We do not handle lawsuits, cases, or claims against employers.  If you are seeking legal assistance in this area, we will be unable to assist you.