November 07, 2012
What Obama’s re-election means for HR and employment issues

In a recent interview with Stephanie Thomas, Patricia Trainor, JD, SPHR, BLR’s Senior Managing Editor, Human Resources, described how Obama’s re-election may impact HR and employment issues.

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Under Obama, we’ll see more of the same, says Trainor. The administration will likely continue to be open to additional regulations for businesses. Also, Obama probably will appoint more individuals to executive agencies who are focused on enforcement and compliance.

In the interview, Trainor focused on how several employment issues will be impacted over the next four years, including the pending ‘right to know’ regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), affirmative action and OFCCP activity, and the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) reach.

Here’s an overview of each topic Trainor discussed during the podcast, followed by a note about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as healthcare reform.

FLSA ‘right to know” regulation: Employee classification

Overview: The Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed ‘right to know’ regulations would require employers to inform employees of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Employers would also be required to do a classification analysis of their exempt employees. They would have to provide employees with a copy of the analysis and retain a copy in case the DOL’s Wage & Hour Division (WHD) ever requests one.

Prediction: The FLSA ‘right to know’ regulations have been postponed several times, and are currently classified as a long-term agency action, which means no action is expected on it for a year. Under Obama’s administration, the regulation will likely reemerge in 2013, but it may be amended in response to employer concerns before it is finalized.

Affirmative action and OFCCP activity

Overview: The OFCCP has been quite active during the Obama presidency. One example is its proposed disability utilization goal. The proposed regulation would require federal contractors and subcontractors that are subject to affirmative action requirements to set a hiring goal to have 7 percent of each job group within their workforce to be comprised of individuals with disabilities.

The OFCCP has also indicated that it wants to develop a new compensation data collection tool. The tool would be used to identify pay discrimination, provide insight into industry trends, etc. It’s not clear what the tool would look like, but it would likely require an annual filing with detailed and extensive pay information.

Prediction: Under Obama, the OFCCP may try to move forward with the utilization goal, but there could be enough pressure on the agency to make changes to the rule.

At this point, the compensation tool is far from being finalized.

NLRB reach

Overview: In the past, the NLRB has had little impact on nonunionized employers. However, recently, the NLRB has taken an expansive view of Section 7 rights under the NLRA. Section 7 guarantees all employees, including nonunionized employees, the right to act as a group, or on behalf of a group, to improve terms of employment.

The Obama Board has put standard employment policies under heightened—and sometimes confusing—scrutiny. In particular, the Board has been focused on social media and employee handbooks.

Prediction: Under Obama, it’s likely that the NLRB will continue to be very active when it comes to analyzing standard employment policies under its expansive view of Section 7 rights. On the other hand, it’s also likely that some of the NLRB’s rulings will be appealed to the federal courts, which could help add clarity and set parameters around the NLRB’s reach.

In the interview, Trainor also discusses the composition of the Supreme Court, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and other issues that could impact the employment landscape over the next four years. Listen to the podcast for Trainor’s detailed explanations and predictions on how President Obama’s administration will affect the employment landscape over the next four years.

Where does healthcare reform stand?

President Obama stands by the ACA that he signed into law on March 23, 2010. Under Obama, the status quo would most likely prevail, and his administration will continue to implement the ACA, predicts Jessica Webb-Ayer, JD, BLR Legal Editor.

In the article, Webb-Ayer outlines several things employers should be doing right now to comply with the law.

Healthcare reform timeline: For an overview of what happens when, BLR has a timeline of the most important provisions of the law that are already in effect and those that will take effect in the next 2 years and beyond.

BLR will continue to report on how the 2012 election results, both federal and state, may impact your workplace. Check back for updates.

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