The General Counsel's Office for the National Labor Relation's Board has recently provided guidance regarding at-will employment disclaimers in employee handbooks. In the past, challenges of unfair labor practices (violation of Section 7 rights) have been successful before administrative law judges where the challenged language was read to imply that the at-will employment relationship could never be changed. Language that has recently found to be acceptable was where the employment was considered to be at-will, but that it could be changed only by the president of the company and that it must be in writing.
So what does this mean to employers? Word choice matters. Drafting an employee handbook alone or going to an office supply store and purchasing a form may seem like a good way to save money up front but can quickly cost more money in the long run. It is much better to have an attorney meet with you and actually observe and understand how your company operates and then draft a handbook that is tailored to your business and your state laws. In fact, insurance companies frequently will offer you a discount if you have an employee handbook that clearly states, for example, that sexual harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated and provides an employee a way to report such misconduct. Other issues a well thought out handbook should address include privacy and internet policies, as well as what benefits are and are not provided by the company. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but is designed to get you thinking about what issues you should want to be clearly written down so that your employees know exactly what is expected of them in the workplace.
The attorneys at Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt can assist you in drafting your handbook. Please call us today to discuss these and other issues affecting your company.