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Government sets April 30 deadline for employers to post notice of union rights

Employers have until the end of April to comply with a new federal rule that requires them to post a notice of employees’ union rights.

The National Labor Relations Board rule takes effect April 30, 2012, and applies to all employers within the jurisdiction of the Board—which in effect is nearly all private-sector employers, regardless of whether their employees have formed a union.

The rule requires employers to post an 11-by-17-inch notice of National Labor Relations Act rights alongside other workplace notices, such as those for wage and safety laws.  The notice states that employees have the right under the Act to organize a union and to bargain collectively with their employers over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment; to form, join, or assist a union; to discuss wages and terms and conditions of employment with coworkers or with a union; to work with others to raise work-related concerns directly with employers or with government agencies; and, in some situations, to strike or picket.

The notice also explains that employees have the right to refrain from union activity, sets out prohibited employer and union conduct, and gives information for filing a complaint with the Board, which investigates violations of and enforces the National Labor Relations Act.

Employers will not have to report whether they posted the notice, and the Board does not have authority to inspect workplaces to find out if an employer has complied.

If an employee or other person complains to the Board about an employer’s failure to post the notice, the Board has said that, in general, it will consider first violations to be unintentional and respond to first violations by asking the employer to comply with the rule and post the notice.  But the Board has advised the public that a willful and knowing violation of the rule will be considered evidence of anti-union motivation in other investigations.  That can increase the risk of being found in violation of the Act in many situations.

Unlike other employment laws, the application of the National Labor Relations Act is not determined by the number of employees who work for an employer.  Rather, NLRB jurisdiction is generally determined by the volume and nature of the business a company conducts.

The April 30 date is the third deadline the Board has set for the posting rule, which has generated questions from and uncertainty among many employers.  The first deadline was set for November 2011 but delayed as the Board developed better guidance for the rule.  The second deadline was set for January 2012 but postponed at the request of a federal judge presiding over a court challenge to the rule.

For more information, read the NLRB notice and frequently asked questions about the rule, contact Sarah E. Crippen.

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