The NLRB’s Stericycle Decision and Employer Handbook Rules

employee handbook nlrb

How myHRcounsel Helps Franchises Stay Compliant Without the Expense of Attorney Fees

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Franchise business owners often need legal guidance, but they see dollar signs when they consider hiring attorneys. So they often go without, hoping that the consequences of DIY decisions – even if wrong – will cost less than hiring an attorney to advise them. But there is another way. The innovators at myHRcounsel have come up with a creative solution.

“myHRcounsel provides subscription-based, 24/7 on-demand employment law and business advice to companies without the fear of the cost of hourly fees from a traditional law firm,” says Andrew Nielsen, general counsel for myHRcounsel. “We provide advice from hiring to firing and everything in between. And we provide updates to our clients on new laws that might impact them, such as the sea change created by the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling in the August 2023 Stericycle case.” 

Impact of Stericycle Ruling

That NLRB ruling broadens workers’ rights to organize in the workplace as well as their rights to moonlight at another job. It ensures they’re able to use cellphones, still cameras and video to document workplace events, including harassment, and working conditions, particularly those that affect on-the-job safety. 

The NLRB gets its authority from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935. That federal law empowered the NLRB to set rules that protect employees’ rights to unionize and to protect themselves on the job. They can discuss and reveal their wages to one another and express safety concerns and, with few limits, they may criticize their employers and supervisors. “It is a violation of the NLRA to have a policy or take action that interferes with or chills employees’ rights” as set forth in that law, Nielsen points out. (The NLRA applies to nearly all private-sector, non-government employees; exceptions are people employed by railways and airlines as well as agricultural and domestic workers.) 

The new ruling takes a much harsher look at the language in handbooks than the NLRB has done previously.

Old Employee Handbooks Probably No Longer Compliant 

Under the Stericycle ruling, which expanded workers’ rights, “all employers – this includes franchisees and franchisors – need to review and revise their handbooks and other policies to ensure that they aren’t infringing on employees’ Section 7 rights under the NLRA,” he advises. “The new ruling takes a much harsher look at the language in handbooks than the NLRB has done previously. And given the sweeping nature of the new rules, it is unlikely that any employee handbook created before the Stericycle ruling would pass muster if challenged.” 

And for employers who don’t have a handbook – Gusto.com says that’s about 13% of U.S. companies with 10 to 200 employees – Nielsen urges them to create one. “When responding to discrimination complaints or wrongful termination suits, the employee handbook is usually the first exhibit I attach to any response,” Nielsen says. “Not having a handbook can hang an employer out to dry when trying to respond to agency complaints and opens the door for unequal treatment of employees, leading to further complaints.”

myHRcounsel works with franchisees and franchisors – and other types of businesses –in both state and federal legal issues affecting their personnel. The Stericycle ruling, being national in scope, affects businesses the same way in every state and is uniform across the country, Nielsen says. “But other rules regarding handbooks vary wildly from state to state. Even bordering states can have vastly differing rules on what is or is not required of employers.”

Employee Handbook Creation, myHRcounsel

myHRcounsel Clients and Services

Current myHRcounsel clients represent a broad range of industries, many of which are involved in franchising. The clients range from staffing services, restaurant and hospitality companies, health care providers, IT and other professional services, to manufacturers and construction companies and contractors. 

myHRcounsel provides tailored packages to meet clients’ needs. The most popular “ASK HR” package, starting at $149 per month, offers HR/employment legal counsel and includes a legally compliant Best Practices Employee Handbook, which can be turned around within 7-10 business days. “For employers that want a more customized handbook, we do offer a different subscription level for more custom drafting, but we find that the best practices handbook works for 99% of our clients. We make sure each client’s handbook conforms to both federal and state requirements, says Nielsen.” For clients with broader needs, the “ASK Pro” package, beginning at $300, includes HR/employment legal counsel, plus corporate law, and collections services.

Complimentary Employee Handbook Overview

The recent NLRB’s Stericycle Decision has raised concerns about employer compliance. If you’re uncertain about whether your employee handbook aligns with the new criteria, myHRcounsel can help. Now through December 31, 2023, myHRcounsel is offering a free employee handbook assessment. To receive your complimentary overview, email info@myhrcounsel.com with the subject line “Handbook Overview” for more information.

To learn more about myHRcounsel, visit www.myHRcounsel.com.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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