Protecting Employers Since 1985

Employee Handbook Review – Make Sure Yours is Up to Date

As you should be aware, there has been a rush of legislative and administrative changes throwing old employment practices into disarray; changing precedent, instituting new standards for classic employment benefits and rights, and redefining the responsibilities and duties of employers to their employees. We have seen this arrive on the federal and state level, so the reach of these changes cannot be underestimated.

Right in the middle of these changes lies your employee handbook. Even a 2023 revision may no longer be valid, or worse yet may set you on the wrong side of the NLRB or your state’s board. If your Handbook is older than 2023, you almost certainly need to have it reviewed for compliance with these new rules. We can provide that service, if you are concerned about whether your Handbook is up-to-date.

As just one such example of these changes: consider the NLRB Stericycle decision, from just this past August. The NLRB called into question what they see as overly broad company policies that they consider to have a “chilling” effect on the exercise of NLRA rights. The Stericycle decision specifically focused in on how these policies, when presented in a handbook that is read by an employee “over whom the employer has a measure of economic power”, might be read to chill NLRA rights. Their new standard will create a presumption that a policy is unlawful if the General Counsel demonstrates that a challenged work rule has a “reasonable tendency” to chill workers from exercising their Section 7 rights. It then becomes the burden of the employer to refute this presumption, placing the burden of justifying a handbook policy back on the employer. The NLRB makes clear that overly broad policies are in the crosshairs, and that policies should be “narrowly tailored.” Matters addressed specifically in the decision as needing to be narrowly-tailored include policies on: 

  • Confidentiality
  • Non-disparagement
  • Personal conduct
  • Restrictions on discussion of wages
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Electronic communication
  • Use of personal electronics
  • Camera and video policies

In addition, state legislatures are passing narrow focused employment laws these days that may conflict with company policies. Examples of upcoming changes in Illinois are: Paid Leave for All Workers Act, Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, Updated Form I-9, Blood and Organ Donation Leave, Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act, Enhanced Striking Worker Protections, Personnel Record Review Act, and the Expanded VESSA Leave.

With all of these changes rapidly arriving, now is the best time to make sure your Handbook is ready for the new landscape, and to make sure that you do not end up with an Unfair Labor Practices charge over your well-intentioned policies.

Questions? Contact Richard Wessels in our St. Charles office by email or at (630) 377-1554

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