As part of a widespread regulatory overhaul, the National Labor Relations Board recently issued new guidance on employee handbooks. The new handbook rules are considerably friendlier to employers than the old rules, and the NLRB has tried to provide employers with clear examples of how to remain in compliance with the new guidelines. The guidance results from a case decided by the NLRB in December 2017, The Boeing Company, which overturned a previous Bush II era case that imposed much stricter guidelines for acceptability when reviewing provisions of employee handbooks.
Employee handbooks are an essential resource for most companies. They are an excellent way for companies to communicate important and vital information to employees such as benefit information, sick and vacation leave policies. They’re also a great way to help establish a company culture and lay out clear expectations for employees. They can lay out the essential processes and procedures of your company, and your employees should follow. Moreover, if you’re not careful, an employee handbook can be enforced against the employer as a binding contract.
Like with many areas of employment-related regulation, standards regarding overtime exemptions have seen considerable instability in recent years. During the Obama years, the Department of Labor sought to significantly expand the number of employees eligible for overtime. Those regulations faced a difficult time in litigation in front of various federal district courts before the new administration rescinded them. Now, a recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has significantly expanded the way in which the Department must analyze exemptions, increasing the number and types of employees that employers can avoid paying overtime.
Litigation related to retirement plans continues to be a major issue facing businesses in the United States. Companies must offer recruits and employees some form of retirement plan in order to attract and retain quality employees in a competitive labor environment. At the same time, the fiduciary duties places on companies by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) and the regulations promulgated by the Department of Labor (“DOL”), and the Security Exchanges Commission (“SEC”) to enforce it can expose employers and the parties whom they hire to manage those plans to expensive litigation. A wave of recent cases highlight both the cost of these cases and some pitfalls to avoid.