The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a final rule that will require employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) as of November 14, 2011.

Most private-sector employers fall under the NLRA regardless of whether their employees are unionized. These employers will be required to post an employee rights notice where other workplace notices are typically posted. In addition, employers who customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules or policies on an internet or intranet site will be required to post the Board’s notice on those sites. Hard copies of the notice will be available from the Agency’s regional offices, and electronic copies will be available for download from the NLRB website, by November 1, 2011.

The notice will be similar to one currently required by the Department of Labor for federal contractors. That notice states that employees have the right to act together to:

  • Improve wages and working conditions;
  • Form, join and assist a union;
  • Bargain collectively with their employer; and
  • Refrain from any of these activities.

It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or to file complaints.

The Board received approximately 6,500 comments during the 60-day comment period following publication of the Proposed Rule in the Federal Register, and accepted an additional 500 that arrived after the deadline. In response, some parts of the final rule were modified. For example, employers will not be required to distribute the notice via email, voice mail, text messaging or related electronic communications even if they customarily communicate with their employees in that manner. Employers may also post notices in black and white as well as in color. The final rule further clarifies requirements for posting in foreign languages. Similar postings of workplace rights are required under other federal workplace laws.

The rule takes effect on November 14, 2011, and applies to every employer under the Board’s jurisdiction, which as a practical manner includes nearly every U.S. employer (although the Board has indicated that it will not apply the rule to some very small employers).

Failure to follow the posting requirement could result in an unfair labor practice charge before the NLRB.

Employers should review their posted notices to ensure they are compliant with the various posting requirements of state and federal law. Employers – especially those without experience with the NLRA – should review the requirements of the Act and make certain that their supervisors and managers are aware of the restrictions placed upon them by it.