Tips From the Trenches: Vol. 4 – NLRB: The gift that keeps on giving

NLRB: The gift that keeps on giving

Do you tell employees not to discuss you, their employer, in social media? If so, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may come knockin’. NLRB’s recent report tells employers what the NLRB considers illegal. NLRB will pursue cases against companies that prohibit employees from making disparaging comments about the employer through traditional media, social media, online blogs or similar

The NLRB opines that employer confidentiality policies are illegal if they prevent an employee from discuss their wages and working conditions with others, in or outside the company. Per NLRB, if a policy prevents an employee from telling a family member how much they make then the policy is overbroad.

Also, NLRB opines that an employer cannot tell its employees not to discuss the company with the media, finding such prohibitions illegal. However, the NLRB did bless a media policy that stated repeatedly that its purpose was to insure that only one person spoke for the company to the media.

The take away from this new report from the NLRB is that every company, even small employers, must think very carefully before instituting a social media policy.

Meal and rest breaks in Washington. A brief reminder….

Washington employers must provide their non-exempt workers with a rest period of at least 10 minutes for each four hours worked, and the rest period must be allowed not later than the end of the third hour of the shift. Non-exempt employees may take several mini breaks instead of the 10 minute rest period if the mini breaks total 10 minutes. Examples of mini rest periods include allowing employees to make personal phone calls, to eat, take a smoke break, or whenever there is not work to be performed for a few minutes during a work shift.

There is no requirement under state law that an employer provide a room where the employee can take his or her rest break or meals. Regarding meals, employers are required to provide a meal period of no less than 30 minutes if the employee works a five or more hour shift.

The employee must be at least two hours into their shift before the meal time can start. The meal time cannot start more than five hours after the beginning of the shift. An employer is required to pay for the meal period unless the employee is free from all duties during their entire meal period. Non-exempt employees may voluntarily give up their meal period if they would prefer to work through their meal period and if the employer agrees. The best practice would be to obtain a written statement from the employee giving up their meal periods in this way.