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Workplace Changes Expected Under the Biden Administration

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
by Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP on January 19, 2021

President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States of America on Wednesday, January 20. Now, with Democratic control of Congress, it’s likely the White House will have the support to proceed with legislation proposed under the Biden Administration. Read on to learn about some expected changes in store related to pay, leave, and safety that will likely have a significant impact on the workplace.

Pay Expectations

Steadily over the last few years, more state and local governments have passed laws increasing their minimum wage. Florida citizens approved a ballot initiative last November that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 over the next several years. Florida joins seven other states and many localities that are also on a path to a $15.00 minimum wage or have already surpassed it.

The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 per hour since July 2009 which marks the longest stretch that the federal minimum wage has not increased. President-Elect Joe Biden has been a vocal proponent of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15.00. Biden has also stated his support in eliminating the inclusion of tips as part of the minimum wage, and the subminimum wage for individuals with disabilities. If and when the minimum wage increases, it’s likely to increase incrementally over the next several years.

The new president may also ask the Department of Labor to extend overtime eligibility and to add “wage theft” provisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Pay equity is also anticipated to be a focus in the foreseeable future.

Leave Expectations

It’s no surprise President-Elect Biden is in support of family and medical leave for employees. Historically, he’s shown his support for paid leave legislation and during the crucial time of the coronavirus pandemic, he’s promised to reinstate paid leave (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) that expired in December of 2020. Right now, paid leave is determined by state and local laws or what an employer provides.

The Biden Administration’s plans related to paid leave are more aggressive than we’ve seen. Employees would be eligible to take over 14 weeks of paid sick and family medical leave for those sick, caregiving, quarantining, or needing to take time to get vaccinated. For more information on the Biden Administration’s expectations for Paid Leave, click here.

Safety Expectations

President-Elect Biden is anticipated to take a more assertive approach to workplace safety enforcement. He is expected to direct OSHA to release and enforce an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19. He is also likely to push for the adoption of a permanent infectious disease standard. Biden has also disclosed that he will make sure OSHA enforces safety rules and plans to add a number of OSHA investigators to increase oversight. Employers should be ready for stiffer penalties for COVID-related violations.

President-elect Biden proposed an ambitious labor and employment agenda during his campaign. While many proposals would require Congressional approval or agency rollout employers should prepare for a more employee friendly direction in the future. If you are a client of FrankCrum you can contact us for guidance.

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tonya is the Labor Compliance Manager at FrankCrum. In this role, she leads the FrankAdvice team of HR consultants and manages the delivery and content of best practice HR information to client owners and managers. When she’s not at work, Tonya enjoys international travel.