News & Insights

Nlrb Issues Guidance On Covid-19

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently addressed the issue of COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic. The NLRB issued a series of advice memoranda instructing its regional offices to dismiss various COVID-19 related charges against employers.

Over the course of five memoranda, the NLRB concluded: (1) an employer is not obligated to engage in midterm bargaining regarding union proposals for paid sick leave and hazard pay because of the pandemic; (2) without independent evidence of retaliatory animus, an employee cannot link an adverse employment action to complaints over COVID-19 related safety measures; (3) expression of individualized concerns over COVID-19 safety measures do not rise to the level of protected concerted activity; (4) in the absence of an explanation as to relevance, an employer may refuse to furnish a union with information requested in connection with a pending grievance over COVID-related lay-offs without violating its obligation to bargain in good faith; (5) an employer does not need to turn its financial records over to the union in the context of a temporary closure unless it asserts the move was driven by a lack of assets; (6) an employer is not operating under a mandatory duty to bargain over a decision to close temporarily due to significant business downturn caused by the pandemic; and (7) to the extent that they are an “inevitable consequence” of the decision to temporarily close because of the pandemic, an employer is not obligated to bargain over the effects of that decision.

Employers should continue to monitor updates from the NLRB regarding COVID-19 over the weeks and months to come. Employers are also encouraged to consult with experienced legal counsel for insights into the implications for their own operations.