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Federal Regulation Changes for Employers to Expect

We were privileged to attend The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Talent Strategies Workshop on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. This workshop provided an overview of the federal employment regulation changes that employers can expect with the new administration. Topics ranged from updates from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor to how appointments to key positions in federal agencies could impact employers.

The Talent Strategies Workshop was led by Travis Hockaday, a partner at Smith Anderson Law Firm, who specializes in employment-related counseling and risk management advising for clients in a variety of industries. Per Attorney Hockaday, here are some of the changes to expect regarding employment law and regulations.

Key Cases to Watch Within the Justice System Regarding Employment Law:

  • The Supreme Court is currently reviewing decisions to modify the amount of information the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can subpoena during an investigation and determine the proper standard of review applied to a district court decision involving an EEOC subpoena.
  • An issue that has yet to be resolved within the Justice System is determining whether Title VII also applies to sexual orientation.

Changes to Watch Within the Department of Labor:

  • The Obama Administration issued a change to the salary threshold for salary exempt employees, increasing the salary threshold from $23,660/year to over $47,000/year. This change was put on hold in November of 2016 and is unlikely to move forward, at least in its current state, due to the new administration. That said, there is a chance that it may come into play with a cost of living adjustment, raising the salary threshold to around $32-33,000/year.
  • The minimum wage increase that the Obama administration proposed, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, is unlikely to take effect.

Changes to Watch Within the EEOC and National Labor Regulations Board:

  • Unless the new administration issues a change towards this decision, the EEOC is on track to begin receiving employee pay data, in addition to race and gender information, during 2018 EEO-1 reporting.
  • Both the National Labor Regulations Board (NLRB) and EEOC are expected to take a more “hands-off” approach towards employers with the new administration, with less litigation and decisions regarding employer policy.

Other Changes To Expect

  • An executive order signed by Obama that protects federal contractors from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination will be upheld by the Trump administration. Additional executive orders regarding federal contractors that may be under review with the new administration include providing paid sick leave to federal contractors and requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and give agencies guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts.
  • We may see more regulation implemented by the new administration in the following areas:
    • Providing six weeks of paid parental leave, funded through the Unemployment Insurance System
    • Mandatory paid sick leave
    • Closing the pay gap between men and women through fair pay regulations
    • Increased incentives for employers to provide childcare options at work
  • President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday, January 25th that prohibited nationals from seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) from entering the United States for a certain period. Two days later, the executive order, which also placed a temporary ban on all refugee admissions into the US, was blocked by a federal judge in the state of Washington. It is currently under review and will likely end up in the Supreme Court. Attorney Hockaday recommends to limit or avoid international travel until the case is resolved and to advise employees who may be affected to expect a much longer and scrutinized process when the time comes to renew visas.
  • While we can expect continued conversation regarding the Affordable Care Act, there is uncertainty regarding how it will be affected by the new administration.
  • North Carolina employers should closely monitor their relationships with independent contractors and 1099 employees. There has been an increased focus regarding potential misclassification of employee statuses.

As experts in recruiting and talent solutions, Greene Resources strives to provide our clients with guidance and up-to-date information so they can make the best decisions regarding their hiring and human resources needs. The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, through numerous programs like this workshop, continues to provide us the insight and resources necessary to help us prepare for the future and best serve our customers.

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