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Responding to National Organized Walkouts: What Employers Need to Know

Over the past few months, employers have been impacted by workers joining in organized employee walkouts and events similar to the “A Day Without A Woman” strike. While many employers were aware that these events were forthcoming, many were uncertain on how to respond and proceed.

Moreover, even though the “A Day Without A Woman” and “A Day Without Immigrants” events have passed, similar protests may be forthcoming in the United States following a tumultuous election season.

As we look forward, employers must remember certain items when considering how to respond to these future protests.

  1. No matter the type or reason behind the protest, you cannot discipline employees who choose to engage in political or social advocacy during non-work hours.
  2. If the protest does not involve protected, concerted activity under the NLRA, employers are able to consider disciplinary action for employees who leave or miss work to attend politically-motivated protests.
  3. Employers do not have to grant employees time off to attend a protest and if they disregard the detail for time off, these employees can be disciplined or even terminated.

Beyond this, knowing these types of events may continue to occur, smart employers must ensure they are prepared. So, first and foremost, make sure you have a plan. No matter which of the options below you choose, it’s important that you have thought this through and have a game plan in place so you are ready to take action.

  1. You can close the office. Your business can choose to close for the day, either in  support of the protest or to protect against negative customer experience caused by insufficient workforce to service needs.
  2. Get feedback from your team by asking them to weigh in or vote on how to proceed. Ask your employees to cast ballots to determine whether or not you should open your  doors.
  3. If you choose to stay open, give back. You could contribute a percentage of that day’s proceeds to nonprofit organizations.
  4. Enforce standard operating procedures. If you do choose to remain open, you can certainly continue to enforce your regular attendance policies, which could mean potentially terminating employees who are no-calls no-shows on protest day.

If you’re unsure of how certain state or local regulations may apply to you in these instances, please contact us and we’d be happy to assist you with this and any other HR related need.