SHRM Advises Federal Agencies on Two Workplace Rules

Suggestions offered on proposed NLRB requirement and DOL guidance on nursing mothers

Mar 3, 2011
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SHRM Advises Federal Agencies on Two Workplace Rules
Suggestions offered on proposed NLRB requirement and DOL guidance on nursing mothers

Alexandria, Va., – March 3, 2011 – The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has filed comments with federal agencies on two regulatory issues that impact the workplace.

Representing its 250,000 members in the human-resources profession, SHRM urged the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to withdraw a proposed rule that would require notification of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. SHRM also submitted comments to the Department of Labor (DOL) on reasonable break time for nursing mothers.

Requirement to Post a Notice of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act

SHRM, which has 575 affiliated chapters in the United States, believes that all employees should understand their rights to union representation. But it contends that a proposed rule requiring private-sector employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights is not appropriate. SHRM opposes the rule because:

  • The act, unlike many other employment statutes, does not include a provision requiring employers to post a notice of rights. For this reason, SHRM does not believe the NLRB has the statutory authority to require it.
  • In addition to requiring that the notice be posted, the rule creates new and serious penalties for those employers who fail to post the notice. SHRM believes the board lacks the authority to create and impose penalties.
  • The text of the required notice does not present the rights to join or not join a union in a fair and balanced manner.

SHRM recommended that the NLRB withdraw the proposed rule. Or, if the required notice goes forward, SHRM suggested it be rewritten to follow the exact text of the statute.

Fifteen SHRM state councils and 13 chapters signed onto SHRM’s comments, according to Nancy Hammer, SHRM’s senior government affairs policy counsel. In addition, comments were submitted by more than 6,400 individuals, many of them SHRM members.

DOL Request for Information on Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers

SHRM polled its members about how they handle break time for employees who are nursing mothers. From more than 1,000 responses, SHRM compiled suggestions to help the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division create guidance for a variety of employers.

Health-care reform legislation required employers to provide a reasonable break time and a location other than a bathroom for employees to express breast milk. The provision did not provide information on what would be considered a “reasonable” amount of time, nor did it address locations that could be used.

SHRM’s suggestions cover more than 20 workplace issues, including privacy, signage and notice provisions. Among them:

  • It be clearly stated that the space an employee uses may differ from day to day, depending upon what space is available.
  • An employer may honor an employee’s wish to use a bathroom, as opposed to another secure space, as long as the employee’s choice is voluntary.
  • An employer whose employees operate vehicles or work outdoors may provide a tent or screen for privacy rather than an actual room.
  • DOL remind employers to turn off security surveillance in areas that are used to express breast milk.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org or follow SHRM at www.twitter.com/SHRMPress.

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