Employers Exploring What Changes a Biden Administration Will Bring

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Now that the presidential race has been called for Joe Biden, employers are studying the impact a new administration will have on policies affecting the workplace. The COVID-19 response, the economy, health care, a change in direction at federal agencies—those issues and so much more are on employers’ radar.

Also, employers need to look to more than just the presidential race, since the makeup of Congress is all-important, too, Burton J. Fishman, an attorney with Fortney & Scott, LLC in Washington, D.C., says. With Republicans seeing gains in the House and a strong chance to retain the Senate, “the Democratic platform hangs in the balance,” he says.

As far as the immediate impact of the new administration, Mark Adams, an attorney with Jones Walker LLP in New Orleans, Louisiana, says Biden has made it clear that his top priorities will be developing a national strategy to control the coronavirus and address the economic crisis as well as racial equality and climate change.

“So, with the president-to-be having set that ambitious agenda and given the likely composition of Congress, we may not see much impact on traditional labor and employment issues, at least in the early going,” Adams says.

Although some have suggested President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting diversity training by federal agencies and contractors might be immediately rescinded when the new administration takes over, “the courts may take care of that issue before then,” Adams says, since that order, which seeks to ban training that includes what the administration calls “divisive concepts,” is being challenged as an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.

Addressing COVID-19

“As getting control of COVID will be the No. 1 priority of the Biden administration, this is the area where employers are most likely to be impacted,” Adams says. “I would expect an initiative to extend the COVID-related leave protections, which, without an extension, will expire at the end of this year. I also would expect to see some efforts to provide relief to unemployed workers. Of course, either of these efforts could come during the lame-duck session of Congress before the new president is inaugurated.”

Kevin C. McCormick, an attorney with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P. in Baltimore, Maryland, says he expects Biden to continue many Trump administration policies concerning the coronavirus, “possibly enhancing an employee’s right to refuse to work in any environment deemed unsafe and providing a more generous stimulus package for employees/employers impacted by the pandemic.”

Health Care

Many employers are anxious to know what the future holds on the healthcare front, but Adams says that question will have to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the attempt to abolish the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, which is currently before the Court.

Patrick W. McGovern and Gina M. Schneider, attorneys at Genova Burns LLC in Newark, New Jersey, say they expect the Biden administration to propose expanding and fine-tuning the ACA, including enhancing premium subsidies, expanding eligibility for Medicare, and allowing consumers to choose between an employer plan and a public option.

Regulatory Climate

Employers can expect a change in direction from various federal agencies and a return to the regulatory climate of the Obama-Biden administration, McCormick says. “I believe that many employers may have forgotten how difficult it was under the Obama-Biden administration to run a business,” he says. “In a host of important areas of employment, I expect that the Biden administration will try to return to those earlier times by reinstating many of those earlier burdens on employers.”….

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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