The National Labor Relations Board has issued a Final Rule requiring employers to notify employees, via a poster in the workplace, of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This notice posting is a new requirement. Employers previously had no obligation to post such a notice. According to the Board, many employees covered by the NLRA are unaware of their rights under the Act, and the Board believes that posting a notice will increase employee knowledge of those rights and the exercise of them. The Rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on August 30, 2011, and becomes effective November 14, 2011.

The Rule requires private-sector employers who are covered by the NLRA, both union and non-union (which includes nearly all private-sector businesses), to post the designated 11-by-17-inch employee rights notice in a prominent place at the worksite, including in all places where other workplace notices are typically posted. In addition to the hard copy posting, employers will be required to post an electronic copy of the Board's notice on internet or intranet sites if those employers customarily use such sites to communicate with employees about other personnel rules or policies.

The full text of the notice language (at pages 185-190 of the Final Rule) contains an extensive list of employee rights under the NLRA, including the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to refrain from doing any of these activities. The notice also provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions and complaints. The NLRB describes the notice as similar to the notice required for federal contractors by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Board will deem a contractor to be in compliance with this Rule if it posts the Labor Department's notice.

Beginning on or before November 1, 2011, each NLRB Regional Office will make copies of the notice available to employers free of charge upon request; or the notice may be downloaded directly from the NLRB website and printed in color or in black and white. Translated versions will also be made available and must be posted at workplaces where at least 20 percent of the workforce is not proficient in English and speaks another language. While the rule does not have recordkeeping or reporting requirements, the failure to post the notice may be treated as an unfair labor practice and may also result in tolling the six-month statute of limitations for the filing of unfair labor practice charges against the employer.

Employers should ensure that they are in compliance with this posting requirement by no later than November 14, 2011. Employers should also take this opportunity to prepare and train their managers and supervisors as to how to effectively respond to any questions regarding unionization by their employees that may result from the posting of the notice. A fact sheet with further information about the Rule is available here.