And The News Just Keeps Getting Better: More Possible Legislation in 2009

I had the opportunity to hear a webcast today, sponsered by SHRM Atlanta. Two attorneys were talking about the upcoming administration and Congress and what that might mean for employers and HR. Well let me tell you, nothing I heard improved my “impending 2009” mood.

Here is the list of things that need to be watched for:
  1. Healthcare reform- Nothing new in that. Several attempts at nationalized legislation. Not sure what will happen but something is coming.
  2. Employee Free Choice Act- I have talked about this one. It is starting to get national play. Still high on the union “wish list”, but the UAW’s unwillingness to help the auto companies may have soured some support for it. But still big.
  3. RESPECT- This is the supervisory law that changes the definition of supervisor and takes away assigning and directing from their definition as a supervisor. Now to be a supervisor they must, for the MAJORITY OF THEIR JOB, “hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge or reward.” If they don’t then they will be considered part of the bargaining unit. Nothing like having your first line supervisors being union members too.
  4. Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act- Sounds like it will impose safety regulations beyond OSHA.
  5. Health Families Act- All employers will be REQUIRED to provide 7 PAID days of sick leave to all full time and part time employees if you have more than 15 of them.
  6. Family Leave Insurance Act- Employers of 2 or more employees must provide insurance and up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
  7. Working Families Flexibility Act- Gives every employee, on an annual basis, the opportunity to negotiate work hours, schedule, or location of work. The employer must respond within 14 days. If the employee doesn’t like that the company then has to renegotiate. (I am not sure to what end.)
  8. Employment Non-discrimination Act- Provides protected class status to gay, lesbian and bisexual workers. One version includes transgender workers, who self identify.
  9. Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act- Changes the statute of limitations on filing pay discrimination.
  10. Paycheck Fairness Act- Requires that pay between men and women has to be proven to have been decided on some other factor other than sex (education, training and experience) and (here is the problematic part of the burden of proof) the difference must be based upon “business necessity.”
  11. Equal Remedies Act- takes the caps off of monetary damages imposed by the CRA of 1991 and puts all discrimination penalities on par with race.
  12. OSHA- the number of inspections will be stepped up.
  13. Minimum wage will go to at least $9/hr.
  14. Comprehensive immigration reform will put the burden solidly on the employer, will modify the I-9 and, hopefully, will improve employment verification.

Well there you go. If something strikes your fancy (of fear into your heart) check it out. Help legislators make informed decisions.

BTW, now would be a very good time to do an attitude survey with your employees. Find out if you may have some trouble brewing. One organization I know that does a very good job of this is Intellectual Capital Consulting. Check them out if you would like more info.

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