Stop me when you've heard one of these scenarios before:
-HR Team huddles to determine what to do about Mary, who has posted a flyer in the break room touting the fact she's now selling Amway on the side, and her prices are great...
-HR Managers debates how to handle the request by a local credit union to come in and do a workshop on the benefits of Credit Unions....
-HR Team gets a complaint from the floor about Fred, who is selling Girl Scout Cookies out of a suitcase located in his cube and actively approaching employees and asking for their patronage.
Why are we forced to think long and hard about these situations? Everyone say it with me - NON-SOLICITATION POLICY!! Everyone has one in their handbooks, and I'm always surprised that a lot of HR people don't fully comprehend why those policies are there.
Still, the execution of the non-solicitation policy is more art than science.
First up, of course we don't want employees to face a daily barrage of closet entrepreneurs selling stuff in the workplace. More importantly, the non-solicitation policy is grounded in a desire to remain union-free. If you have a non-solicitation policy in place and enforce it, the NLRB will generally uphold your ability to prevent unions from being on your property to solicit support from employees.
If you don't have that policy, or more common, don't enforce it, the NLRB will likely allow unions to come on your property to solicit employees, since you are allowing others to solicit your employees on site as well.
The scope of the non-solicitation policy has been expanded to include email based on a recent court decision. From CBS4.com in Miami:
"Employers can prohibit workers from using the office e-mail system for union activities, so long as they prohibit solicitations from any outside organization, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled.
The board said its 3-2 decision sets a new labor relations standard that allows employers to prohibit union activity through the company's e-mail system while at the same time permitting office chitchat and personal messages.
The decision, released Friday, upheld the management of the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper in a case involving e-mail messages sent by Suzi Prozanski, a copy editor and Newspaper Guild leader, during contract negotiations in 2000 and the warnings the company gave her.
The board said two of the messages were "solicitations to support the union," and the company was justified in enforcing a policy that forbade the use of e-mail for "non-job-related solicitations." It ruled against the paper on a third message, saying it was "simply a clarification of facts surrounding a recent union event."
I hate saying no to the sale of girl scout cookies, school sales, etc. I'm usually a "no-harm, no-foul" type of person, but every time I see one of these cases it always perks up my sensitivity to solicitation in the workplace.
I won't come out against girl scout cookies, lest I get blown out in the workplace version of the Iowa caucus. I prefer to say yes to informal bumps in the parking lot between employees with business that gets done verbally, and no to posted flyers, the use of email to solicit, etc.
You have to say no to some organizations you like (credit union, formal girl scout cookie marketing?) to keep the ones you don't want around your organization at bay. That kind of stinks....