The NLRB’s Rulings – Why You Must Treat Your CW Right! | DCR Workforce Blog

The NLRB’s Rulings – Why You Must Treat Your CW Right!

NLRB LogoThe discussion is everywhere on the blogosphere, so you could hardly have missed it! The conclusion is unanimous. Treat your contingent workers right – or face the unpalatable consequences.

Today’s contingent workers:

  • Choose to freelance or jump from gig-to-gig as a way of life.
  • Expect a lot more attention and engagement than earlier generations of employees.
  • Know how to use social media to express their opinions and thoughts as well as to take a stand.
  • They expect communication and recognition and demand the right kind of attention and appreciation for their contributions.
  • More of them are experienced workers offers skills which are on-demand and hard to find.

Do not fail them, or treat them like transparent pieces of office furniture. Or, they will never return for a second assignment. They also know exactly how to tell others why it is not a great idea to touch you and your organization, even with a bargepole! If you talk about employer branding and fostering loyalty from your workers – make sure you walk the talk with all segments of your workforce, which includes the contingent worker – a fact many employers ignored till recently! The new rules from the NLRB with regard to social media policies make it an imperative!

Wondering how these two connect? The National Labor Relations Act, the main labor policy governing labor relations in the United States, defines the rights of workers to address working conditions in Section 7:

“Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

Most people are unaware of the fact that the NLRB allows temps to join the same union as the permanent workers at the company even without obtaining permission from the staffing agency that assigned them. With the new guidance from NLRB, corporate social media policies may not restrict the employees’ right to speak critically of their employer online – unless the policies were established through a collective bargaining agreement, or if the union waived its right to bargaining.  Well, think of what the workers could say online about your treatment of them after they have left your organization?

According to the NLRB’s new guidelines, employers are required to ensure that their social media policies are not overly broad. Policies must enable workers to share information about working conditions or wages. The NLRB protects the rights of employees to speak and to act together using conversations on social media to plan concerted action for improved workplace conditions. Social networking sites can act as alternative forums for seeking redress. Other guidelines instruct employers to formulate social media policies which:

  • Provide clear examples of social medial conversations which would be deemed inappropriate,
  • Can be revised if the NLRB’s investigator finds anything objectionable or unlawful about the policies or language,
  • Do not characterize working condition information – like the terms of conditions of their employment – as confidential.,
  • Explain what exactly they would construe as offensive, demeaning, abusive or inappropriate remarks and keep them within the bounds of Section 7 activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Do not instruct employees to check with the employer if in doubt about the information they are posting,
  • Recognize that the non-commercial use of the employer’s logo or trademark when engaging in Section 7 activities does not constitute a trademark violation,
  • Do not prevent criticism of the Employer’s labor policies or treatment of employees,
  • Do not prohibit or lay restrictions upon ‘friending’ co-workers online.

Even as employers are wondering about the type and number of examples they need to incorporate into their social media policies, the NLRB is looking at them under a magnifying glass, dissecting them and discarding whatever it finds unlawful.

And, the employees and contingent workers are equally watchful as they consider the implications of this policy.  While permanent employees may hesitate to publicly criticize for fear of damaging their position (dismissal or reduced opportunities for advancement), temporary workers – particularly those approaching assignment end – do not share those concerns.  As for the employers, it would not be an exaggeration to say that they are just caught between a rock and a hard place!

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.