Employers: Fringe Benefits News
Employers who use labor-relations consultants to help maintain positive employee relations should be aware that the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) intends to issue a proposed rule that will likely change employer and consultant reporting obligations under section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). The anticipated reporting changes, especially modifications made to section 203(c), would narrow the extent of the advice exemption and may impact how labor relations consultants are used by employers in the future.
Currently section 203 of LMRDA states “an employer must report any agreement or arrangement with a third party consultant to persuade employees as to their collective bargaining rights or to obtain certain information concerning the activities of employees or a labor organization in connection with a labor dispute involving the employer.” In addition, consultants are expected to report any agreements or arrangement with an employer.
In the present description of the reporting requirements, section 203(c) provides a statutory exception which states “employers and consultants are not required to file a report by reason of the consultant's giving or agreeing to give "advice" to the employer.” It is this particular section that is expected to see the most changes.
During a recent hearing OLMS revealed that they believe the current interpretation of the advice exception is too broad and needs to be made narrower through rulemaking. In the next few months OLMS expects to rework sections of the LMRDA to develop proposed rules that will expand the scope of employer-consultant reporting requirements. These changes will likely limit those individuals who would be able to apply the “advice exemption” and expand persuader reporting.