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What Should Human Resources Expect from the New President?

Published on Feb 01, 2017.

Welcome to the new age of President Donald Trump! After a tumultuous campaign that elicited the strongest reactions on both sides of any time that I can remember, Donald Trump became the 45th President on January 20, 2017. “Now what?”, we wonder.

I remember when Barack Obama became President eight years ago. He came into office with a flurry of Executive Orders, many aimed at workplace rules and laws. He empowered the Department of Labor and the agencies it oversees (EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB) to enact very employee-centric rules, not to mention beginning work on what became the Affordable Care Act.

The pace of Trump’s Executive Orders during his first week in office has surprised many in the media, but it feels to me about the same pace as the previous administration. I do believe however, it signals an ongoing change effort led by perhaps the most unconventional President the US has ever had. He truly does not seem to be following “the script” and as such, it is going to be hard to predict exactly what he might do. He doesn’t seem to follow a purely right ideology that would help us anticipate his actions. Having said that, we may still have some clues.

Affordable Care Act

He has already issued an EO to begin the repeal process for the ACA. He promised in his campaign to “repeal and replace” the Act, but so far we do not really know what the replacement plan will look like. He has said that he wants to keep certain provisions of the current Act that are popular – specifically allowing children to remain on the parent’s plan until age 26 (age 23 was the previous maximum) and to allow those with pre-existing conditions to be covered. We know he wants to eliminate the employer and individual mandates. What we do not know, is the detail of a replacement plan nor how he would propose to pay for the plan without the mandates or penalties. He has also indicated he wants to lower drug prices as part of the repeal/replace effort. We can anticipate SOME kind of change here and probably fairly soon as it was something he told us he wanted to do “Day One.”

DOL Overtime Rule

The overtime rule change is under a temporary injunction which the DOL immediately appealed. The first thing that is likely, is for the DOL under a new Department head (Andrew Puzder is the nominee; confirmation hearing delayed until February 7) to drop the appeal. The most likely change to the rule that will occur is a graduated increase of the minimum salary for exemption rather than the 100% + currently proposed and elimination or change to the automatic scheduled increases to minimum salary.

EEOC

The current head of the EEOC reflects the progressive views of the Obama administration. It is certainly likely that whomever Trump appoints to this position will reflect a more conservative perspective. This may impact the recent direction the EEOC has taken to include gender identity and sexual orientation as part of the definition of “sex” within the Title VII discrimination protections.

LGBT Protections

There has been a steady progression in LBGT protections in public policy, most notably in terms of same-sex marriage and as mentioned, the interpretation that LGBT protections exists already in Title VII. Trump seems to be more open to continuing existing protections than the overall Republican party, so it is a little hard to predict what might occur here. It may be safe to assume that the current protections will remain, but won’t be broadened.

Pay Equality

One of the very first things signed by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for workers to challenge unequal pay. Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in whom he clearly has confidence, spoke at some length during the campaign of his commitment and support for equal pay.

FMLA

Another cause of Ivanka Trump is paid leave for new mothers. President Trump said during the campaign that he was in favor of providing 6 weeks of paid leave to new moms. However, many pundits think that federal paid FMLA legislation is not likely in the near term and extremely unlikely at the state level for Idaho.

With this new President’s lack of governing record to provide us an idea of what he’ll do, anything can happen. Buckle up!

Written by Patti Perkins,
Owner/CEO of Calyx-Weaver & Associates

Image credit: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/inauguration-2017/trump-signs-executive-action-obamacare-inauguration-day-n710116