Three key areas that could make 2018 the year of the employee handbook overhaul

Read on, HR enthusiasts.

1. Paid Family and Medical Leave.

A few weeks ago, I wrote here about a SHRM-endorsed paid-employee-leave bill that was introduced in House.

Yesterday, over at Bloomberg Law, Tyrone Richardson reported here that as the House and Senate work on finalizing a tax bill, another paid leave option may make the final cut. Unlike the SHRM option, which would have amended ERISA, the different amendment proposed by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) would amend the Internal Revenue Code and offer a tax credit for businesses that offer their workers paid family and medical leave. It could look an awful lot like the Strong Families Act, which she proposed earlier this year.

Regardless of what happens with the tax bill, states like New York have already decided to require paid family leave starting in 2018.

2. Accommodation for Employee Use of Medical Marijuana.

Nevada and New York are the only states with statutes that explicitly require efforts to accommodate employee use of medical marijuana. Otherwise, the trend there for a while was that employers in most other states would not be required to accommodate employee use of medical marijuana under either state or federal law.

And then things began to change over the Summer.

I’m not aware of any state in which an employer is expressly prohibited from accommodating employee use of legalized medical marijuana. (Well, except in regulated industries, of course). That’s not to say that your business needs to be on the progressive side of this issue. But, either way, your employee handbook should announce your intentions.

3. The NLRB playbook could change dramatically.

Over the past eight years, the “Obama” National Labor Relations Board has generally issued decisions that weigh in favor of employee/union rights. Since the President nominates Board members, that’s typical.

Now, we have a Republican president and the Board is shifting hard right. Indeed, on Friday, the Board’s new General Counsel issued this memo in which he foreshadowed the Obama Board decisions that may be walked back. Among the issues that could shift to a more employer-friendly stance:

  • Concerted activity for mutual aid and protection
  • Common employer handbook rules found unlawful
  • Off-duty employee access to property
  • Joint Employer
  • Duty to provide witness statements to union

Remember that the National Labor Relations Act governs not only most unionized workplaces, but also those where there is no union either. So, employers should pay attention to these developments and the other issues addressed above.

And you can do that by reading this blog…and telling all of your friends about it.


“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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