The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has issued a Final Rule requiring most private-sector employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The rule was posted in the Federal Register on August 30, 2011. Under the rule all NLRA covered employers must post written and in some cases electronic notice to employees informing them of their rights under the NLRA. The notice requirement applies to both union and nonunion employers. The NLRA covers most private sector employers except some agricultural employers and employers who are subject to the Railway Labor Act. Among other statements, including examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and information on how to contact the NLRB, the notice must provide that employees have a right to do the following:

Organize a union to negotiate with their employer concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment:

  1. Form, join or assist a union;
  2. Bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for a contract with their employer setting wages, benefits, hours and other working conditions;
  3. Discuss the terms and conditions of employment or unionization with coworkers or a union;
  4. Take action to improve working conditions by, raising complaints with their employer or government agency, seeking help from a union, or otherwise;
  5. Go on strike or picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or picket; and
  6. Choose not to do any of the activities described above, including joining or remaining in a union.

These notices must, at minimum, be contained in an eleven by seventeen inch poster. The poster must be conspicuously placed “where notices are customarily posted.” If an employer regularly uses the internet to communicate other personnel rules, the NLRB link must be posted on the website. If a particular employer’s workforce contains more than twenty percent non-English speakers an additional poster must be written in that language and posted. These posters are available electronically and in hard copy from the NLRB. Any failure to comply with these requirements will be considered to be an unfair labor practice. The NLRB has specific authority to investigate cases where “knowing noncompliance” may exist.

This notice requirement raises important concerns for employers nationwide, and there have been court challenges resulting in delays in enforcement of the posting requirement. Employers should consult with counsel regarding their responsibilities under this new rule.

Update: With another delay from the NLRB, the posting enforcement date has been moved to April 30, 2012.