Throughout his campaign, President Joe Biden had been vocal about his plans to be the true friend of labor. His promises included a raise to the minimum wage and family leave. It also includes many more changes that will be more favorable to the working community. As the administration is beginning to work on these assurances, what can we expect in terms of employee protections under the Biden Administration?
The Overtime Rule
In 2016, the Obama Administration announced a much controversial regulation that gave 4.2 million more workers the right to overtime pay. The overtime rule would have doubled the salary from $23,660 to $47,476. However, the Trump Labor Department rolled back the cut-off to $35,568, which came into effect on 1st January 2020.
In the next few months, Biden is expected to take a more measured approach to increase the exempt salary threshold to a number higher than Trump’s, but likely lower than what was introduced by the Obama overtime law.
Increase in Minimum Wage
While being the Vice President, Biden had repeatedly called for an increase in the federal minimum wage. As President, he is likely to prioritize this by raising the wages from $7.50 to $15.
The Biden Administration also supports eliminating the inclusion of tips as part of the minimum wage. The Democrats hold the majority in the Senate. Hence, the White House is likely to obtain the Congressional support to pull through the new changes in different stages over the term.
Equal Pay Laws
Biden has also publicly committed to taking measures that will tackle the existing disparity in pay based on gender. If passed, the Paycheck Fairness Act would bring critical changes to the law, requiring employers to demonstrate that the pay differences are based on factors other than sex. It will also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees disclosing their wages or discussing wage practices in the workplace.
In effect, the bill will make it relatively easier for employees to pursue legal action against their employers if there is wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or national origin.
Federal Family Paid Leave
Extension of paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks. Biden has expressed support for this cause several times, and the new law is also expected to include provisions of the FAMILY Act, which was formally introduced in Congress.
Biden has stated that signing the Equality Act was on his agenda for the first 100 days in his office. The law will provide more inclusion for the LGBTQ community. It’ll prohibit any discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Also, it covers support for disabled, pregnant, and senior employees. The law will extend to employment, education, housing as well as a public accommodation.
In summary, employers can expect a significant shift from how the Trump’s administration handled the employment laws. It is best to seek legal counsel and prepare for the upcoming changes in the best way possible.