Former Vice President Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021. Many priorities top his list, including items that will affect employers nationwide. While this is not an all-encompassing list, these are the items we feel are the most relevant at this time.
COVID-19 has pushed safety to the top of this list. President-elect Biden will likely focus on ramping up the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is responsible for workplace safety and protecting employees in the workplace. Under the Trump administration, we saw a decline in OSHA inspectors from around 1,000 to roughly 761. Biden will be expected to increase this number soon after he takes office. This will likely result in increased workplace inspections to ensure employers are doing everything they can to protect their employees.
Employee Benefits & the ACA
With the legality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in question again, a Biden presidency will be focused on protecting those with pre-existing conditions and the affordability of health insurance. President-elect Biden has also stated he will look to expand the ACA, giving more options for coverage, reducing costs, and improving access to care.
Increase in Minimum Wage and other Wage and Hour Items
President-elect Biden may enact additional protections for employees, including wage theft prevention requirements. These efforts could include notice as well as recordkeeping requirements. Some states, like California, already have wage theft protection measures in place. It is unclear how new federal requirements would affect current requirements.
An early Biden campaign promise was an increase to the federal minimum wage. He has pushed for an increase to $15 per hour, up from the current rate of $7.25 per hour, by 2026. This initiative may be halted in Congress, so expect states and local governments to continue their own measures if not passed on the federal level.
Employee Leaves of Absence
President-elect Biden has a past record of supporting family and medical leaves, though he may not be as drastic as some of the progressive lawmakers would like him to be. Biden has stated “…we need to go further (than 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave) — I believe the United States should guarantee 12 weeks of paid sick and family leave for workers. American workers deserve to know they can keep their families afloat if they have to take care of a sick family member.”
Other opponents in the primary, including Vice President-elect and former Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, were pushing for more than 12 weeks of leave. President-elect Biden has also stopped short of supporting paid family leave on a broader list of situations. Only time will tell where his final decision will fall.
A new President always brings about change. The biggest take away so far is even if President Biden is restricted by a Republican-led Senate, we can still expect states to move his agenda items forward. Your consulting team is standing by and monitoring critical updates as they happen.