Hand holding a globe with reflection of business people

The Future of Human Resources

At the June ‘17 Society for Human Resource Management Conference, VP of Government Affairs Michael Aitken, presented “The Trump Administration and the 115th Congress: The Washington Outlook for HR Public Policy.” How could anyone in good conscience not attend that session? Mr. Aitken raised some excellent, non-bashing points, that we should all consider, whether we work in HR or not.

The conversation started out with some realities that a businessperson (Mr. Trump) probably wasn’t prepared to face (President Trump):

  • the realities of managing the government are different that managing a business;
  • governing “in the majority” is not like working with a Board of Directors;
  • and probably my favorite phrase: “hyper-partisan environment.” Frankly, I think that’s an understatement but I’m honestly going to try to stay neutral here!

So, what do we do with these points? First and foremost, if you’re concerned, then lobby your representatives. Early in my career, I had the good fortune of learning all about Grass Roots politics. You have a right and a responsibility to let your representatives know your position. Don’t be emotional and do use real-life stories.

In my experience, they love to hear from their constituents.

Labor and employment

President Trump has suggested a “2 for 1” rule in which any new legislation must replace two pieces of legislation. The regulatory agency heads have been put on notice to focus on items that have a negative impact on employment and/or do not show any kind of Return on Investment. Naturally, all regulations that were enacted under President Obama are facing scrutiny by the Trump Administration.

Keep in mind, this is no different than any other time the White House has “changed” parties.

The three items that have already been reversed:

  1. Final Persuader Rule (if I consulted on Union “stuff,” the employer would have to report that to the NLRB)
  2. Interpretations of the Joint Employment/Independent Contractor definitions (franchisors can be heard cheering loudly in the background)
  3. EEO-1 Compensation Data Collection (it wasn’t going to start until 2018 anyway)

Of course, pre-Trump Administration, the OT Rule was put on hold. It looks like something is going to move forward eventually but rumors indicate the salary basis will be in the $30k range. So far, this is all relatively good stuff for employers.

The “bad” stuff

President Trump included a desire to see some type of paid Family Leave for working mothers. Per Aitken, paid sick laws are gaining speed on both the East and West Coast. New York just enacted a paid family leave program that the employee pays for. Everyone agrees these programs are an excellent idea – who’s going to stand up and publicly say no – no paid leave for you! But, neither government nor business can reach a consensus about funding or the best avenue for providing such a plan.

SHRM has worked with Representative Mimi Walters (R-CA) to introduce Workplace Flexibility legislation that will look at:

  • A compressed work week
  • Biweekly work
  • Telecommuting
  • Job-sharing
  • Results-oriented work
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Predictable scheduling

The proposed legislation suggests that employers could voluntarily develop a program and then become exempt from any State Mandated program. These “Voluntary” programs would be ERISA-covered, guarantee pay, and cover both full- and part-time employees.

Again, who wants to stand up and say “nope, you don’t deserve that,” right? (Hey, I’m just the messenger here – I’ve got no idea how HR Resolutions would fund this for our employees.) As an HR practitioner, though – those bullet points CAN and do work – a lot of companies are already doing these things. And, if their employees are working, they’re getting paid!

Lastly, let’s talk about the two elephants in the room that took up half of Mr. Aitken’s presentation.

Immigration and employment status

From an employment standpoint, we need to be concerned with only two (2) areas here: H1-B Visas (please, please monitor these very closely right now) and I-9s. Congratulations – a new new I-9 was released in July (replacing the new I-9 that was released in January). Make sure you are using the most current I-9 form in conjunction with your new hires. Please remember: you do not need to go back and have existing employees complete a new I-9 form every time it’s updated. They’re only for your new hires.

Healthcare

When the Affordable Care Act was coming, I stuck my head in the sand because I didn’t think it would impact our general client. As an HR Professional, I’m not sure what’s coming next, but I’m trying hard not to stick my head in the sand this time around. Very few people disagree that something needs changed; it’s just that no one seems able to agree upon what that “something” is besides costs. It was refreshing to see that most Americans still have employment-based coverage (55.7%) according to the US Census Bureau as of September 2016. That was probably my biggest concern when the ACA was passed. To date, we’ve only had one client stop providing medical insurance to their employees.

While it appears that nothing has been moved forward with the healthcare situation, Aitken raises some interesting thoughts: we can only move one of four ways:

  1. Repeal
  2. Fix
  3. Status Quo
  4. Eliminate Subsidies

As with anything in life, not everyone will be happy with whichever direction this takes. We have a responsibility to our employees to be informed about the facts of what is enacted, such as the Affordable Care Act still being in place. We must continue, as employers, to abide by those guidelines and not make any changes to our plans in anticipation of change. The best advice I can give? Stay calm and don’t get caught in the hype of pre-existing conditions, loss of coverage, or what might happen to premiums if subsidies go away.

Ultimately, we don’t know what’s going to happen or how the actions taken by the government will affect us or the businesses we work with; but, stay involved, seek answers to your questions from the professionals that can best help you, and avoid the “water cooler rumor brigade!”

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions.