What you need to know about the National Labor Relations Act

The NLRA (or Wagner Act of 1935) protects the rights of employees to:

  • Form or join a union
  • Bargain collectively for a contract that sets wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions
  • Discuss wages, working conditions or union organizing with co-workers or a union
  • Act with co-workers to improve working conditions by raising complaints with an employer or a government agency
  • Strike and picket their employer, depending on the purpose or means of the action
  • Choose not to join a union or engage in union activities
  • Organize coworkers to decertify a union
    If employees choose a union as their bargaining representative, the union and employer must bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a binding agreement setting out terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent employees in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.

Employers may not:

  • Prohibit employees from discussing a union during non-work time, or from distributing union literature during non-work time in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms
  • Question employees about their union support or activities in a manner that discourages them from engaging in that activity
  • Fire, demote, transfer, reduce hours or take other adverse action against employees who join or support a union or act with co-workers for mutual aid and protection, or who refuse to engage in such activity
  • Threaten to close their workplace if employees form or join a union
  • Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support
  • Prohibit employees from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances
  • Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings

Unions may not:

  • Threaten employees with job loss if they don’t support the union
  • Refuse to process grievances of employees who criticize union officials or do not join the union
  • Act in a discriminatory way when making job referrals from a hiring hall
  • Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against employees because of their union-related activity
  • Take other adverse action against employees who do not support the union

The NLRA applies to employees in most private-sector workplaces, including manufacturing plants, retail centers, private universities, and health care facilities. Agricultural workers and domestic workers were excluded in the original law and are not covered. Also exempted are supervisors and independent contractors. The organizing and collective bargaining rights of railway and airline employees are protected by the National Mediation Board, not the NLRB.

The Act does not cover federal, state or local government workers, with the exception of employees of the U.S. Postal Service. The Federal Labor Relations Authority has jurisdiction over federal employees. The organizing and collective bargaining rights of state and local employees are determined by state laws enforced by individual state agencies.

For more information regarding the NLRA, visit the National Labor Relations Board FAQ Page.
Not sure how this legislation applies to your medium or small business? Contact us today.

Best Practices for Employee File Management

There are two main purposes for maintaining physical employee files:

  • For Legal Compliance
  • For Employment and Employee Decisions

An official personnel file is a compilation of communication and documents related to the job and employment details for an employee. The file serves as the historical record of information pertaining to an employee from their initial employment application through their date of separation.

It is recommended that one single file should be kept for each employee that includes sub-sections (individual folders) for each category as listed below:

 

General File

(Generally subject to Public Records Law)

  • Personnel Data Information
  • Application (signed upon hire)
  • Letter of offer
  • Acceptance letter
  • Requests for Personnel Actions
  • Position description
  • Compensation information
  • Non-medical test results
Employee Performance File

(Generally subject to Public Records Law)

  • Performance Evaluations
  • Letters of commendation or letters of complaint
  • Awards, certifications, achievements
  • Training sessions attended
  • Examples of work
  • (No notes about investigations that may lead
  • to disciplinary action)
  • Requests for corrective action
  • Disciplinary actions issued (e.g., verbal or
  • written reprimand, suspension, termination)
Miscellaneous File

(May or may not be subject to Public Records Law)

  • Records of policy or job information given to employee
  • Employee requests to examine their personnel file
  • Leave forms
  • Letter of resignation
  • Exit interview questions
Medical File

(Generally not subject to Public Records Law)

  • Physical exam reports
  • Injury reports
  • Medical certifications
  • Reasonable accommodation requests (ADA)
  • FMLA information
  • Genetic information
Controlled Access File

(May or may not be subject to Public Records Law)

Attorney Client Privilege documents are exempt.

  • Benefit plan choices and beneficiary information
  • Interview evaluation forms and reference checks
  • Grievances
  • EEO/Affirmative action data
  • Charges of discrimination
  • Investigatory notes and attorney-client communications
  • Legal actions complaints
  • Education records (any records other than direct information related to a student)
  • Promotion and Tenure records

 

However, the separate file should be maintained for the following records:

  • I-9 File – Employment Eligibility Verification
  • DMA File Declaration Regarding Material Assistance/Non-assistance to a Terrorist Organization form

 

Not sure if your organization is in compliance? Need an auditor or an independent consultant to bring you up to speed or teach you how to do it? Email jprice@jumpstart-hr.com for more information.

 

A Guide To Understanding I-9 and E-Verify

Federal law calls for a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to be filled out before any new member of staff can start work. This form confirms that the employee has approval to work in the United States. Correct completion of I-9 forms is one of the best ways to avoid legal consequences for employing illegal personnel, particularly in this era of increased immigration enforcement.

Several federal agencies have gotten together to run the free website E-Verify, which lets employers ensure that their employees have work authorization. This Internet-based system compares data from a worker’s Form I-9 to information from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration records to verify whether or not that worker is eligible to be employed. The system is quick and user-friendly, and it’s the best way for companies to ensure an officially authorized labor force.

The use of E-Verify is voluntary for most employers, and limited only to determining whether a new hire is eligible for employment. Businesses with federal contracts or subcontracts that have the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause and employers in certain states are mandated to use the system. More than 238,000 employers are enrolled in the program.

The current administration has made its priorities on enforcing immigration policies clear: it will move the spotlight from raiding businesses and arresting and deporting undocumented personnel to an approach “using all tools available” to locate and penalize employers who are not following official procedure. The administration has declared that as a consequence of its new focus on employer compliance, it will now use E-Verify as one of these “tools” to assist in its new worksite enforcement system.

The DHS’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is aggressively checking that companies are totally compliant. Non-compliance can bring about fines anywhere from $110 to $11,000 per infringement, and forfeiture of the company’s assets. Using an I-9 employment eligibility authentication service can help your business in a number of ways: it decreases time and work spent confirming whether individual staff members can work or not and maintaining their files, reduces your exposure during government audits, decreases the odds of legal penalties, and avoids negative publicity.

Are you in search of a low-cost solution to help your business handle the intricate and varying requirements of Form I-9 compliance? Look no further. Jumpstart:HR delivers a solution that standardizes the procedure across your locations and helps you navigate the E-Verify system with confidence.

It’s sound business practice to make Jumpstart:HR a fundamental part of your I-9 compliance program, especially taking into consideration current stepped-up workplace enforcement by ICE and stiffer employer penalties. Jumpstart:HR is the safest and easiest way to complete error-free I-9’s and simplify your compliance process.

Question: Are you confident that your HR Department is in 100% compliance with current I-9 and E-Verify compliance?

What HR can learn from Steve Jobs

Game changer. Visionary. Legend.

When describing any other man, these words would stand tall. However, these words don’t do justice to the man who birthed such revolutionary products such as the Macintosh computer, iPod and the iPhone. Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an entrepreneur, inventor and co-founder of Apple. His resume includes over 330 patents as inventor or co-inventor, oversight of one of the most profitable companies in American history and claim to an indelible mark on not only business leadership theory but also modern pop culture.

While Steve Jobs was busy spearheading one of the most dynamic companies in recent history, he was also creating a culture worth emulating. In the book Rework by fellow game changers 37 Signals, they talk about how every product creates a byproduct. In creating one of the influential and recognizable brands on the face of the earth, Steve Jobs and Apple also created a compelling example of organizational culture for HR professionals and executive leadership to follow. Here, summarized in quotes from Mr. Jobs throughout the years, are some of the ways that HR can learn a thing or two from Steve Jobs.

 

Purpose over possession.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [Steve Jobs, May 25, 1993]

Money/profit should not be your main motivating factor.

“You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]

Love what you do and let it be contagious.

Interviewer: We were warned about you: Before this Interview began, someone said we were “about to be snowed by the best.”

[Steve Jobs smiling] “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]

Talent [that get’s “it”] matters.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Steve Jobs, Nov. 9, 1998]

Invest your way to success in spite of economic downturn.

“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” [Steve Jobs, May 1999]

Embrace creative brainstorming.

“The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

“But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. [Steve Jobs, Oct. 12, 2004]

Encourage employees to find their “sweet spot.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” [Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

What other business/HR principles have you seen Apple implement that deserve attention?

Company culture analysis

Corporate culture is an organizational mindset that is present in every facet of business operation. It is characterized by the level of communication between management and staff. The staff will typically go all-out to meet or go beyond the standard once they are told about the company’s corporate culture. This is most evident in businesses that offer workers the opportunity to share in the rewards of company success, via additional benefits or profit sharing.

Your company’s corporate culture is an intangible asset that you can use to generate a competitive strategic advantage to distinguish it from other firms and to improve performance. It has a significant function in the development of your company’s reputation. A 2004 study proved that culture works together with communication and the relationship companies have with their staff to predict how the outside world views a particular company.

A detailed corporate culture analysis usually calls for profound understanding of the core values of the company. It won’t completely explain the idiosyncrasies of individual units, groups, and workers, but it usually will reveal practices and values that are common among most employees. The overarching objective is to find out how and why things are done in a particular organization.

A company with strong culture has employees who respond to incentives because they are aligned to the values of the organization. On the other hand, the employees of a company with weak culture are usually not aligned with the values of the organization and you can only control their work and behavior through extensive procedures and red tape. Studies have shown that companies promoting strong cultures usually have clear values that give workers a reason to fall in line with the culture.

Your prospective customers’ corporate culture is also important: a lack of understanding and alignment with your clients’ culture could be a key setback to achieving the results that each party wants. You need to know whether the companies you’re doing business with will micromanage your projects, or whether they prefer free thinkers or envelope-pushing talent.

Most culture changes don’t succeed because organizations don’t turn their vision and values into daily behavior. Organizations get over-involved in the activity of training and improvement teams, but see little impact from them due to lack of focus. Your staff needs to know how the company’s vision will be attained, and this “how” is contingent on the values of the organization.

You can change your corporate culture for the better … or you can live with it. Many executives are taking a closer look at the internal mechanism of their businesses – their values, attitudes and main concerns – to see if they can fit into the new American business setting of reengineering, downsizing, acquisitions and a crowd of other pressures causing havoc on the morale of your staff.

One of the big mistakes in this fast changing environment is the theory that corporate culture is consistent and resilient. Jumpstart:HR uses very refined and specific tools that will give you quantitative and qualitative information, which will result in total understanding of your company and its resources and how to use them effectively and successfully.

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