Employers know that when a new administration moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that HR changes soon follow so they are keeping a close eye on President Biden’s workplace policies and programs.
With the Democrats in control of the White House for just two months, some major legislation has already taken place with the signing March 11, 2021 of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, but other changes are still on the drawing board.
Here is what HR needs to know about changes that have already been implemented:
2021 StimulusThe American Rescue Plan Act with over 600 pages is one of the most expensive pieces of legislation in U.S. history and is packed full of provisions including:
- One-time stimulus checks of $1,400 per individual (with adjusted gross income $80,000 or less for individuals and $160,000 or less for joint filers) plus $1,400 for each dependent of any age.
- Extending $300 extra weekly unemployment benefit from the federal government through August 2021 plus a tax exemption on the first $10,200 of payments received.
- Payroll tax credit for employers who voluntarily extend paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) through Sept. 30, 2021. Bill also expands FFCRA qualifying reasons for employers who offer it.
- $350 billion to state and local governments to help with COVID-19 economic impact.
- Extends through the end of 2021 the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) which allows eligible employers to claim credit for paying qualified wages to employees. ERC is now claimed against the employer’s share of Medicare instead of Social Security taxes.
- $50 billion for small-business assistance.
- $130 billion to help schools reopen.
- $30 billion in rental assistance and home energy and water costs.
- Child tax credit has been raised from a maximum of $2,000 to $3,000 per child and to $3,600 per child under age six.
- $160 billion for COVID-19 vaccine development, distribution and other related needs.
- Covers health insurance premiums under Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for those who lost their insurance because of job loss and do not qualify for another employer plan or Medicare.
- Expands eligibility for subsidies for people of all incomes to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Adds $7.25 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program which ends at the end of this month.
- $86 billion to shore up struggling multi-employer pension plans.
OSHA Executive Orders
President Biden issued workplace protection executive orders on Jan. 21, 2021 that directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to:
- Issue revised COVID-19 workplace safety guidance to employers.
- To issue by March 15, 2021 an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 in the workplace if OSHA deemed necessary.
- Review COVID-19 enforcement efforts and ID changes that could better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement.
- Launch national program to focus on enforcement efforts regarding COVID-19 workplace violations that put the greatest number of workers at serious risk.
Equality Act in Senate
The Equality Act, which would expand Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and other services passed the House on Feb. 25, 2021 but has not passed in the Senate.
Paycheck Fairness Act
The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced in the House in January 2021 and has been introduced in some form – but not passed – in every session of congress since 1997.
Proponents of the bill want to prohibit employers from restricting employees from discussing pay information with colleagues.
President Biden has taken the following executive orders since taking office:
Extended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protections to LGBTQ individuals.
Revoked previous administration’s executive order on race and sex anti-discrimination training.
Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
Passed by the House and now in the Senate, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act could include:
- Narrowing definition of “independent contractor” and “supervisor”.
- Implement “interest arbitration” if initial bargaining fails to generate an agreement.
- Broaden scope of employer unfair labor practices.
- Narrow employer’s rights under the employer-speech provision of NLRA section 8(C).
- Remove restrictions on secondary and recognition picketing.
- Broaden employer’s obligation to bargain collectively.
- Expand remedies available to employees for NLRA violations committed by employers.
- Prohibit employers from requiring employees to waive their rights to collective and class action litigation.
Present Biden signed an executive order revoking the ban of work visas to nationals of Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela and Yemen.
Provisions to raise the federal minimum wage rate from $7.25 to $15 per hour were removed from the American Rescue Plan Act before passing.
There are many changes already taking place and this can be confusing and alarming to a business owner. Contact Employer Flexible today to find out the latest workplace changes and let us develop a comprehensive HR plan for you that is tailored to your company’s unique needs.