What does 2014 hold for the compliance arena in HR? Glad you asked. Here are my predictions for 2014.
The year 2014 is a midterm election year. It is a big one. There are 36 governor spots up for contention. There are also 35 Senate seats in contention and dozens of spots in the House of Representatives. With the 35 Senate seats the control of the Senate could shift by the end of the year. The House of Representatives will remain in control of the Republicans as there are not really enough seats in contention to change that control.
What will get done?
The short answer to this question is very little from a legislative standpoint. But we may see sentiment on several areas change. These areas include:
- Minimum wage. No legislation will get passed on the Federal level despite a push by the President and unions. In an election year businesses will lobby against it. After this election year we may see sentiment move to passing a new minimum wage law due to the mounting pressure from state legislation. But not in 2013.
- Executive pay. There will continue to be legislation introduced into Congress that strives to limit executive compensation. As with the minimum wage, maximum wage will also not get any traction in an election year. Unlike the minimum wage, if the Republicans win the Senate, there will be no traction beyond 2014 either.
Most action will be regulatory
Since this will not be an active legislative year the work that HR will have to deal with will come from a regulatory standpoint.
- The Affordable Care Act– The spotlight will be shining brightly on Obamacare. With the delay of the employer mandate employers will now have to be stepping up what they do to be ready to go in 2015. The poor roll-out of the individual mandate sign-ups will have employers wondering what is going to happen with them. Numerous politicians will be calling for either support or repeal, depending on party affiliation. Regardless employers will have to be prepared.
- NLRB– For the first time in a long time there is a full NLRB board. They now have the power to render decisions unimpeded by questions of legal authority to do so. I think 2014 will be an active year. Decisions will be rendered to benefit union activity and to bolster union membership. Two states are considering right-to-work legislation and although the NLRB does not directly deal with that the can do things that will be used to influence voting. Right-to-work is a states’ rights issue under the Labor Management Relations Act. The Weingarten Rule, which gives employees the right to witnesses in any disciplinary situation, could be reapplied to non-union workers to perhaps bolster the image of what a union could do for an aggrieved employee.
- USDOL– The USDOL will continue to put the screws on employers for employee misclassification. Regulations are being developed to require employers to give a statement to each employee or potential employee (which includes independent contractors) explaining the employee’s status. The employee can then question that status and have the employer document their decision. This may result in many more lawsuits. The IRS will join in this effort with their own continued clampdown on employee misclassification with an emphasis on the use of independent contractors. Additionally state Workers’ comp boards will also be monitoring this. It is all about revenue.
- OSHA– One big regulatory change will most likely involve posting the OSHA logs on a year round basis. Right now the OSHA 300 summary has to be posted for the months of February, March and April. There has been a suggestion that ongoing records will have to be posted year round. They will continue the move toward implementing the I2P2 program.
- EEOC– The EEOC is smarting a bit due to a major and expensive loss in the court system. They have had do back down from their background check initiative. However, that will continue. They are also going to be pursuing more compensation and glass ceiling activities. Probably the area that will be most harmful to smaller businesses is that the will be more aggressively pursuing systemic discrimination investigations. Their philosophy is that if you discriminated against one person you have discriminated against others.
There you have it. My conclusion is: don’t worry about legislation but pay attention to the regulations!