Tag Archives: handbook

NLRB General Counsel Offers Guidance on Employee Handbooks

Unknown( Post was written by Allen Smith, J.D., manager of workplace law content for SHRM)

Employers need not read the tea leaves anymore about what employee handbook language the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel considers to be prohibited. NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin Jr. put the agency’s cards on the table in a March 18, 2015, report to NLRB regional directors that he said hopes “will be of assistance to labor law practitioners and human resource professionals.”

The general counsel is taking “an expansive view” of language that is prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), according to Steven Swirsky, an attorney with Epstein Becker & Green in New York City. And much of the language hasn’t been approved or disapproved by courts or the board, he added.

Nevertheless, reviewing the report should give HR professionals ideas on whether and how their policies should be changed, Swirsky added. He cautioned that employers “should not cut and paste,” as different companies will have different circumstances.

Unionized and nonunion businesses alike should pay attention. Swirsky said many employers tune out news about the NLRA because they think it applies only to unionized employers. A big reason for this report is to emphasize that the law also applies to nonunion environments, he remarked.

Confidentiality Rules

The following confidentiality rules are unlawful, and thus should not be included in any employee handbookd, Griffin said: Continue reading

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Avoid Litigation: 20 Things to Do Today

lawsuit(Post by Rick Dacri, with considerable input from Adam Taylor, Esq. of Taylor McCormack & Frame; 2/2/15)

No one wants to find themselves on the wrong side of employment litigation. So here are 20 things you should do to minimize your risks:
1. Update your employee handbook
2. Distribute your sexual harassment policy to all employees yearly (it’s the law)
3. Train your new employees and new supervisors on sexual harassment prevention (it’s the law in Maine for employers with 15 or more employees)
4. Make sure your salaried exempt positions are classified properly
5. Make sure any Independent Contractors meet the state and IRS standards
6. Post all your required state and federal posters
7. Make sure you have I-9s for all your employees and they are properly completed
8. Post your OSHA 300 form
9. Update all your job descriptions
10. Make sure your hourly nonexempt workers are taking their breaks, are being paid for all hours worked, and are compensated when expected to work at home, including taking phone calls, responding to emails, or completing work
11. Promptly address and document performance problems
12. Train interviewers to probe applicants
13. Make sure managers understand how to address FMLA requests and workers’ comp injuries
14. Have a social media policy that meets NLRB standards
15. Clarify ambiguous policies such as how vacation is earned and when incentive bonuses are paid
16. Properly evaluate all employees yearly
17. Don’t rely on “at-will” as the basis of a termination
18. Review all your leave policies
19. Payout all accrued and unused vacation pay to employees upon separation
20. Don’t require employees to pay for losses such as broken merchandise, uniforms or tools
Call Rick Dacri at 207-229-5954 or rick@dacri.com if you have questions, need some help complying or want to train your managers in proper compliance techniques.

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Massachusetts: New Paid Sick Leave Law

(Post written by attorneys Amanda Marie Baer and Bob Kilroy of Mirick O’Connell)

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question enacting M.G.L. c. 149, § 148C, which entitles Massachusetts employees to earn and use sick time.  Massachusetts is now the third state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for certain workers.Unknown

The law provides that employees who work for public or private employers having eleven or more employees can earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year.  The sick time must be compensated at the same hourly rate paid to the employee when the sick time is used.  Employees who work for employers with less than eleven employees can earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.

Under the law, employees earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Employees begin accruing sick hours on either (a) the date of hire; or (b) July 1, 2015, whichever is later.

Employees may begin to use earned sick time on the 90th day after hire.  After the 90 day period, employees may use earned sick time as it accrues.  Employees can only use earned sick time and miss work in order to: 

  1. Care for a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition affecting the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse;
  2. Attend routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; or
  3. Address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee’s dependent child.

In certain circumstances, employers may require employees to provide certification of the need for sick time.

If an employee does not use all of their sick time in a calendar year, the employee may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next calendar year.  Employees who carry over earned sick time, however, may only use up to 40 hours of sick time in a calendar year.  Employers are not required to pay an employee for unused sick time at the end of the employee’s employment.

It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under the new law.  For example, employers may not use the taking of earned sick time as a negative factor in any employment action such as an evaluation, promotion, disciplinary action or termination, or otherwise subject an employee to discipline for use of earned sick time under the law.

In light of this change in the law, employers are advised to review and update, as necessary, their sick time, vacation and/or paid time off policies.

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Filed under Compliance, Employee Relations, Insurance