Sue Meisinger on Labor Legislation in the Age of Trump

Meisinger Image 2The following post is the last one we’ll see by Sue Meisinger in her capacity as a Workforce Institute board member.    Sue has been a regular contributor here for the last 6 years, and we’re going to miss her!  We’re hoping she’ll make occasional appearances as a guest blogger in the years to come.  Thanks, Sue, for all of your contributions over the years.

Read on to get Sue’s take on the likely impact of the Trump presidency on labor legislation.  How will you prepare?

The elections are over (finally!) and the world’s attention has turned towards trying to figure out what to expect from President-elect Trump. For HR professionals and people with an interest in workforce issues, the focus is on how the new President intends to create new jobs, and what will the change be, if any, in employment policy?

During his campaign, Trump promised to focus on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and if he’s able to find the money to do it, it would certainly create lots of new jobs. Less clear, however, is whether he’ll be able to find the skilled workers to fill those jobs, since so many skilled jobs are going unfilled today. Hopefully, the President-elect will focus significant attention and resources on programs to help train and re-train workers in order to tap into a workforce of people who have lost jobs to new technologies or dying industries.

Changes to employment policy are hard to predict this soon after the election. With few detailed labor and employment policies outlined during the campaign, it’s likely that proposals must await the arrival of the new President’s political appointments at agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, NLRB and EEOC. Only when his team is in place, and able to work with Congressional Committees on setting an agenda for what they hope to accomplish, will things begin to move.

Of course, one of the major questions on most HR executives’ minds is what, if anything, does the election mean for the new FLSA overtime regulations. The new salary test for determining whether someone is entitled to overtime pay were scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2016, significantly increasing the number of workers eligible for overtime in many industries.  But after the election, and shortly before the regulations’ scheduled effective date, a federal court enjoined the new regulations, and the Obama Administration announced it will file an appeal.

Even if the appeal is successful, the new President is likely to make changes.  While campaigning, President-elect Trump didn’t specifically address his views on the overtime rule changes, although he spoke in favor of small business exemptions and reducing the overall number of regulations.

As a result, during the transition and for the early months of the Trump Administration, employers will simply have to live in limbo, awaiting clear direction on what the policy will be.  Will there be no change in the salary test?  A slight increase?  An increase based on geography?  And will any change in threshold be linked to a change in duties?

Elections have consequences, and the national’s overtime regulations will prove to be just one example of this fact.  The one sure thing about all federal labor and employment policy in the near future? You’ll need to keep monitoring it to be prepared for change – which is certain to come.

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