Protests impact businesses. There’s no arguing that.
Everyone today will be affected by the immigrant protests in some way, whether it’s noticing that there is a strange pattern in traffic, finding an empty desk at work, not being able to go to your favorite restaurant, or hearing about it on the news.
Originally the protest started with having undocumented immigrants protest by staying home from work, not attending school, not going shopping, not eating out, not going to restaurants etc… However, many people who are related to immigrants are choosing to protest as well.
With all of the protests, employers are beginning feel the stress of people who are protesting affect their businesses and bottom line. After all, business must still go on.
So, how should HR professionals deal with the protests?
Here are some tips and tricks to keep yourself out of trouble:
- Be careful about how you treat employees who are absent on a protest day. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees who are protesting and prevents employers from taking action against them.
- Refer back to your handbook on how to handle undocumented absences. Although this is a special circumstance, employees should still notify their employers of their absence.
- Never assume that just because someone is out, they are an illegal immigrant. The I-9 form should be properly filled out and already kept on premises, there is no need to recheck these files if an employee doesn’t show up for work today
What should you advise management?
Management will no doubt be concerned at the stop of activities, however, it is important for HR professionals to inform the team that one day of shutdown will not necessarily negatively impact the business.
Also, since the NLRA protects employee rights to protest, the best thing to do in this case would be to remind employees gently of the attendance policy and to leave it at that.
National origin is one of the protected classes for employment. HR professionals will often deal with people who are of different national origin and it is important for them to fill out the I-9 correctly within 3 business days of the employee’s hire date.
Lasting Impact of Protests
Ultimately, it is not up to HR professionals to decide whether the protests are correct or incorrect, but to enforce a culture of acceptance within the Company and prevent disruptions. However, when protests that are politically charge like this happen, HR professionals should take note and be the liaison between the employees and management to make sure that there is clear communication on both sides.
But what do I know? I’m…
~Just the HR Girl