November 9, 2020
By Anne E. Baggott
The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will likely end many of the Trump administration’s business-friendly regulations and policies implemented since 2016. In 2021 and beyond, we expect the administration of President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris to reinstate many labor- and employee-friendly policies through various appointments to executive agencies, policy statements, legislative initiatives and executive orders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified calls for a federally mandated paid leave benefit for all employees. Mandated paid leave via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has probably opened the door for both sides of the aisle to reach agreement on some level of paid leave.
Wage and Hour
The Biden administration will likely push to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminate the tipped minimum wage. We also expect the Department of Labor to re-examine the minimum salary threshold to meet the “white collar” exemptions to overtime rules.
President-Elect Biden is widely expected to take action to end many of Trump’s executive orders and proclamations restricting travel, limiting green cards and guest worker programs, and eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted protection to some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Many employers support these actions, which would increase legal immigration, to ensure the ability to recruit, hire and retain top talent and staffing in key industries, such as technology, health care and agriculture.
Both Biden and Harris have strongly supported civil rights and social justice movements throughout their careers as public servants. We expect the Biden administration to refocus enforcement efforts at various agencies, such as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), against employers in the areas of racial discrimination in particular, given the president-elect’s strong support from the African American community and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. We also expect Biden and Harris to expand protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
Biden will likely appoint a majority of labor-leaning members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), though the transition will take about one year. The future NLRB’s probable policies will shift to increased union protections and more scrutiny of joint employer rules. The new NLRB may also swing back to a worker-centered interpretation of policies in employer handbooks to increase the ability to engage in protected, concerted activity.