Many Wisconsinites are aware that Wisconsin Act 10 transformed union-management labor relations in the public sector when it became law in 2011. The enactment produced massive protests, political upheaval and numerous legal challenges.
Act 10 prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on issues other than base wages, prohibits municipal employers from deducting labor organization dues from paychecks of general employees, imposes annual recertification requirements, and prohibits fair share agreements.
Wisconsin’s new Social Media Protection Act is significant for employers. There have been several high-profile cases around the nation in the last several years that have challenged the practice of some employers to require that their employees provide them with password information that would allow the employer to access the employee’s private social media accounts, like Facebook. Facebook itself has spoken out against the practice.
If your business hires people to help with the work (whether office tasks or production of goods or services), then you need to properly classify the workers as employees or independent contractors.
Here is one important reason why classification matters: Generally, you must withhold income taxes and withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to employees. You generally do not have to withhold or pay taxes on payments to independent contractors for the work they do for you.
A business’s success strategy should include ways to protect its confidential, proprietary and trade secret information from its competitors. One way to guard such information is to establish policies that limit what the company’s employees may communicate to others. Recently, however, the National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel (AGC) has taken aim against numerous so-called social media policies. The AGC has determined that many such policies run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The NLRA grants employees the right to engage in protected, concerted activities for “mutual aid or protection” and freedom of association. These rights apply whether or not the workplace is unionized. An employer’s interference with such rights may constitute an unfair labor practice.