Redefining Workplace Transparency
The recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to ban broadly written confidentiality clauses in severance agreements has sparked a variety of opinions and reactions. This blog post aims to explore the implications of this decision, the possible consequences for employees and employers, and provide recommendations for navigating this change in the severance negotiation process.
NLRB's Decision and Its Impact on Collective Action
Traditionally, workers have agreed to NDAs in order to receive severance payments and other benefits. These agreements have often discouraged employees from speaking out against unfavorable working conditions or expressing dissatisfaction about layoffs. The NLRB's recent decision limits the scope of these severance agreements, making it easier for workers to take collective action under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. As a result, employees now have more freedom to discuss working conditions and unionize.
Varying Opinions on the Decision
Many people view the NLRB's decision as a positive step towards improving workplace conditions and employee rights. Employment attorney Alex Granovsky told CNN, "Companies are definitely incentivized to silence their departing employees...[because it helps them keep] all the skeletons in the closet." The decision, in his view, opens the door for greater transparency and may lead to better companies overall.
However, the decision may also change the dynamics of severance negotiations. While increased exposure is generally considered beneficial, both employees and employers will need to adapt to the new landscape and its potential consequences.
Possible Consequences for Employees and Employers
For employees, the ability to speak more openly about past employers can be empowering. However, it is important to use this newfound freedom intelligently. Hiring managers may search an applicant's social media profiles to gauge their discretion when discussing previous employers. Careless or vindictive comments could harm future job prospects.
Employers may face new challenges as well. With the NLRB's decision, companies can no longer rely on NDAs to keep sensitive information private during severance negotiations. This may lead to an increased emphasis on fostering positive workplace environments and addressing employee grievances proactively.
Recommendations for Navigating the Change
As the landscape of severance negotiations shifts, it's crucial for both employees and employers to adapt their strategies. Here are some recommendations for navigating the change:
Be mindful of your online presence: While it's now easier to discuss past experiences, it's essential to maintain a professional online presence. Make sure any public discussions about previous employers are respectful and measured.
Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with the National Labor Relations Act and its protections to ensure you are aware of your rights when it comes to discussing working conditions and unionizing.
Focus on fostering a positive workplace culture: With the inability to rely on NDAs to maintain privacy, it's even more critical to prioritize employee satisfaction and address any grievances promptly.
Revise severance agreements: Review existing severance agreements and ensure they comply with the NLRB's decision. Consult with legal counsel to make necessary adjustments.
The NLRB's decision to ban non-disclosure agreements in severance agreements marks a significant shift in the landscape of employee rights and workplace transparency. While there are potential consequences for both employees and employers, this change presents an opportunity for all parties to reevaluate their approach to severance negotiations and work towards fostering more open and positive workplace environments. By understanding the implications of this decision and following the recommendations provided, employees and employers alike can navigate this change and create better working relationships.