July 11, 2017
Policies in Flux: Keeping Up With Government Policy Changes
By Lisa Calick
It can be a confusing time for an employer these days.
President Donald Trump has publicly stated his intent to roll back many of the Obama-era regulations. The new administration has made it clear that one of its primary goals was to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As such, employers were expecting to see changes to the law that would potentially eliminate the employer mandate and/or burdensome reporting requirements. While House leaders withdrew the initial bill, a second attempt at a revised health care bill has since passed, and the Senate has since put together its own version of the bill. It is unclear where this will lead, but at this stage, the Affordable Care Act remains in effect. While the administration may continue to allow federal agencies to provide the regulatory relief allowable, employers must remain compliant with the ACA’s coverage obligations and administrative requirements, such as annual reporting, as well as monitor any fresh decisions launched at the state or local levels.
To prepare your company for other possible changes, here are some policies you may need to keep an eye on:
E-Verify: To keep his promise of harsher immigration laws to his voters, President Trump may mandate E-Verify to all companies, a system used to examine a new hire’s identity information alongside government databases prior to employment, to prevent employers from recruiting those in the United States without legal permission to work. Many critics of this possible regulation raise concerns of confidentiality, application burdens and imprecisions that keep legal immigrants from seeking employment.
EEOC pay reporting rule: Though President Trump did not mention the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on the campaign trail, many observers detail a tighter stance under his administration, which could include revising several regulations. Back in 2016, the EEOC announced that employers must provide data on worker hours and pay by race, sex, and ethnicity to help the organization inspect pay discrimination more intimately. The first reports are due in March of next year and can be a major paperwork hassle, so be sure to plan accordingly. However, there is no certainty that the new administration will in fact require this revised EEO-1 report.
In addition to these modifications, let us not forget other promises that Trump has made: support for paid maternity leave and a desire to reform our H1B visa program.
Beyond these potential changes that may impact companies nationwide, there are other changes to watch at the state and local level.
On Jan. 1, 2018, New York will become the fourth state to offer paid family leave as a benefit to employees working in the state. Currently, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island offer such programs. Benefits will be funded through employee-paid deductions and administered through the respective disability programs. Employers should be proactive in this regard and reach out to their payroll providers and disability carriers to ensure they are prepared to roll this out. Additionally, New York City recently signed into law a bill that, as of October 1, 2017, prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history during any state of the hiring process (including employment applications). The goal of this legislation is to combat the pay gap that may exist between men and women due to unfair pay practices at previous places
What’s more, with this administration seeking greater control at the state level, it is imperative to observe local employment law initiatives and modifications. For employers that maintain office locations in multiple states, it is crucial that they are familiar with labor laws that exist in those particular locations. State and local lawmakers are also raising other legislative proposals, such as paid sick and family leave, pay equity, gender identity, Ban the Box (eliminating the box on employment applications that asks about criminal convictions), right-to-work, medical and recreational marijuana.
Though there are plenty of rulings to come under President Trump, it seems that states are taking matters into their own hands and are implementing laws that are best suited to them. Be sure to pay close attention to these changes and their impact on your company.
As Director of Human Resources, Lisa Calick is responsible for all human capital strategies at Wiss including workforce planning, talent management, learning and development, compensation and employee relations. If you would like to contact Lisa, you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 973.994.9400.