With all the COVID-19 related issues and all the political drama of the 2020 elections, I imagine one of the most used words in 2020 was "unprecedented." Based on how the Biden administration has started, one of the most used terms in 2021 may well be "burdensome," at least for us in HR.
The Biden administration is moving as fast as it can to undo as many of the Trump presidency's executive orders as well as pushing his labor-friendly agenda that will generate a lot of regulatory changes, which are sure to keep us in HR very busy for the next several years—call it job security.
The good news in all the pandemonium is that as members of NOARK, you have a resource that will help you stay up to date in all the upcoming regulatory and legislative changes. NOARK's Legislative Affairs Committee aims to provide members with information on current legislative and regulatory issues that directly affect Human Resources.
What follows is just a glimpse of the Biden administration's potential legislative and regulatory program.
- Biden's pro-labor statement, "If I have the honor of becoming your president, I'm going to be the strongest labor president you have ever had." that he stated on September 7, 2020, at the AFL-CIO Labor Day event should send a clear message to all of us in HR that we will be updating several employment practice policies.
- The Biden administration will push for some of Obama-era initiatives that were not previously successful, such as increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and some form of paid family and medical leave.
- Also, since the Democrats now have control of both the House and the Senate, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) may be invoked to repeal, among other things, labor and employment regulations adopted in the latter days of the Trump administration. If revoked by way of the CRA, a regulation is deemed null and void. There are over 1,400 regulatory actions that are eligible to be overturned. However, the Democrats are likely to prioritize just 10 to 20 because of limited floor time.
- On January 7, 2021, President-elect Biden announced that he had chosen Marty Walsh to be his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor. Walsh is clearly pro-labor. Fortunately, he has a reputation of being a consensus builder and someone willing to engage stakeholders on both the labor and management sides. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has significant regulatory authority over matters ranging from workplace safety through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to the classification of workers as employees or contractors under federal wage and hour law.
- Besides changes at the DOL, the new administration will designate Democratic chairs of independent agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- The Biden labor reform agenda's core piece of legislation is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most comprehensive federal labor relations legislation since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) itself. The PRO Act would make it easier for unions to organize employees, including employees who have never before been able to join unions, while simultaneously creating new leverage for unions at the bargaining table and imposing unprecedented changes in many employers' workplace structures. This bill is extremely labor-friendly. If you would like to learn more, I've included a link to the bill that has already passed the House: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2474.
- The Biden administration will also be focusing on broadening the definition of "employee" and changes to joint-employer guidance.
We are in for a hectic next couple of years dealing with new regulations and legislation. To help the HR community keep up with all these changes, the Legislative Affairs Committee is recruiting more volunteers to help monitor and report on pending regulatory changes.
Being involved in the Legislative Affairs Committee is a great way to help support your fellow HR Managers and get involved in and learn about the legislative process. No experience is necessary. This committee also conducts limited lobbying activities as authorized by the Board, which is an enriching experience.
For more information, please contact Amy Fisher, Committee Chair, at 479-525-7128, email: eat0@eau0eav0eaw0, or Russell Holt, Committee Member, at 479-725-4889, email eat1@eau1eav1eaw1.
Russell Holt, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Compliance Officer
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