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COVID-19 Update November 18, 2020

Just wrapped our NAPEO board meeting with lots to share.

First off, there are a few important upcoming dates to keep in mind:

  • By December 8th, the states must report the electoral count to the federal government.
  • On December 14th, the electoral college meets and formally declares a winner, baring any lawsuits still pending.
  • On January 6th, the congress holds a joint session to ratify and confirm the elected president.
  • On January 21st is the swearing-in ceremony and official first day of the term of office.

On the election front, the House stands at 221/209 Democrat to Republican, and there are 5 races still counting ballots that might be split 3-2. It’s been decades since the House has had such a slim majority. The Senate majority is going to depend on the runoff race for two seats in Georgia, which are leaning towards the Republican party. The takeaway is that if the country is evenly split among the two parties, this may in turn lead to further difficulty moving anything through Congress.

Assuming that the next four years will be under the Biden Administration, policy changes in healthcare will be slow to roll out as the new president slowly appoints his Cabinet and receives approval from Congress. Associated health plans and short-term disability changes that President Trump enacted through executive orders are destined to be reversed. Biden’s platform also outlines larger goals to work on with Congress, rolling back President Trump’s immigration policies, such as increasing the number of employment-based visas, providing a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and creating a new, decentralized immigration stream for foreign workers that is based on local employers’ needs, as well as a new visa option for entrepreneurs.

In regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) case that is currently being decided by the Supreme Court, it all seems to boil down to the original “employer mandate” that considered ACA a “government tax.” Once this employer mandate was eliminated by a bill in 2017, the employer penalty for noncompliance was removed along with the so-called “tax.” It is less likely that the ACA will be struck down altogether. After the arguments heard on November 10th, the justices essentially threw it back to Congress to pass the law as the Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law. The official ruling is to be released next summer, but it seems they have already tipped their hand on where they are leaning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the role of technology in the workplace, and more employers are relying on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality to save money and limit in-person contact. While the pandemic dampened organizations’ plans to spend on traditional HR technologies, many found a way to invest in systems to help support remote work. These technologies can be effective tools for hiring, training, and assessing employee performance, as well as creating meaningful interactions during a time of isolation.

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