On June 21, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will require certain federal contractors and subcontractors to post notices in the workplace informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The new DOL rule implements Executive Order 13496, issued by President Obama on January 30, 2009, requiring federal agencies to include provisions in contracts requiring the contractor to post notices informing employees of their rights under “federal labor laws.”
Employers/Contracts Subject to the Rule
This rule applies to prime contracts exceeding the “simplified acquisition threshold” – currently $100,000 – and to subcontracts of $10,000 or above. The rule does not affect existing contracts and it does not apply to nonprofit and religious institutions or to government contracts where all work is performed exclusively outside the United States.
Required Content of the Notice
The required notice provides employees with information regarding their rights to:
- Organize, form, join, or assist a union
- Bargain collectively with an employer
- Discuss the terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with a union or co-workers
- Engage in concerted activity with co-workers to improve working conditions
- Strike and picket
Additionally, the notice must include examples of illegal conduct by employers and unions, explain the complaint process, and provide contact information for the National Labor Relations Board.
At Work Posting Requirements
Federal contractors and subcontractors must include information about the posting requirement in all of their nonexempt federal contracts and subcontracts. The required notice, titled Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act, must be posted conspicuously in plants and offices where employees covered by the NLRA perform contract-related activity and are likely to see it – including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Click here to download a copy of the notice.
The DOL will make available to employers copies of the poster in languages other than English. Employers must post the notice in languages that any “significant portion” of their workforce speaks.
Electronic Posting Requirements
Contractors or subcontractors that customarily post notices to employees electronically must also post the required notice in that medium. The electronic posting requirement is satisfied by “prominently” displaying a link to the electronic version of the Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws notice on any external or internal website that is maintained and customarily used for notices to employees about the terms and conditions of employment. The text for the link must read, “Important Notice about Employee Rights to Organize and Bargain Collectively with Their Employers” and it must link to this page: http://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/EmployeeRightsPoster11x17_Final.pdf.
Penalties for Noncompliance
Two DOL agencies share enforcement responsibilities: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for investigation of complaints, compliance evaluations, and conciliation, and that agency will refer violations to the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) for enforcement. The sanctions, penalties, and remedies for noncompliance with the notice requirements include the suspension or cancellation of contracts and debarment from future contracts.
This rule changes the workplace posting obligations for employers with qualifying federal contracts. Indeed, the requirement regarding notification to employees about union-related matters has changed significantly from the Bush presidency, where federal contractors were required to post notices informing employees that they were not required to join unions. Federal contractors should analyze their obligations under the rule and ensure that they comply with all necessary notice and posting requirements.