What can Wisconsin Employers Learn From an Employer in Churubusco, Indiana (Pop. 1,800)? Wisconsin employers should be aware of the root cause of a lawsuit that led to a settlement between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and an Indiana...
Many employers are unaware that the National Labor Relations Act may apply to their places of employment, even if the workforce is not unionized. For example, Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees that employees have the right to “self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations . . . and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of . . . mutual aid or protection . . . .” The NLRA also prohibits employers from interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of these rights.
While Wisconsin becoming the nation’s 25th state to enact “right to work” legislation has made headlines, that legislation affects private-sector unionized workplaces only. Many employers may be unaware, however, that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) may regulate a place of employment, even if that workplace is not unionized.
Ordinarily, an employer must pay wages to an employee for all work performed by the employee. However, not all time that an employee is at his or her workplace is compensable time, according to state and federal law. For example, the following activities are not compensable:
(1) Walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform; and
(2) Activities which are preliminary or postliminary to the principal activity or activities, which occur either prior to the time or on any particular work day at which such employee commences, or subsequent to the time on any particular work day at which he or she ceases such principal activity or activities.
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.