As another year comes to a close, we recommend finding time to reflect on 2021…
Our NAPEO Federal Affairs Committee just wrapped and there’s plenty of information to share about what is going on in DC:
The takeaway from the election is how close the vote was in several states. Analysts expect the new administration will attempt to change multiple federal HR regulations, despite the ongoing pandemic. Many have begun to predict what the next four years will bring, specifically, the top workplace developments to expect under President Biden.
However, change may be difficult given the pending runoff elections. The Democrats have a firm hold on to the House, and it looks like the upcoming Georgia runoff election in January will determine control of the Senate. With the Senate race so close, it’s in the best interest of either party to capture both seats. Thus, roughly $1 billion will be spent on advertising campaigns from both parties. In previous Georgia runoff elections, voters have not returned to the polls, so either way, the general “please vote” message will continue through the end of the year.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the legality of the Obamacare/Affordable Care Act to determine its constitutionality. The consensus is that it’s going to remain status quo, although the final ruling will come out sometime in June of next year or later. Interestingly, Judge Roberts seemed tired of policy agendas being driven by the Supreme Court and essentially pushed it back to Congress to make the necessary alterations for compromise.
Furthermore, Colorado has passed a paid family and medical leave insurance program for all employers in the state. This initiative mandates that employers provide 12 weeks of leave for Colorado employees, plus an additional four weeks in case of medical complications.
The latest on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) involves the new form 3509, which is not officially on the SBA website PPP loan forgiveness. This new forgiveness document is for all for-profit companies that received PPP loans amounting to $2 million or more. Word on the street is that the questions seem to be aimed towards certifying that you had a financial hardship and truly needed the money for your business operation. The reasoning behind this could either be attempting to scare people out of asking for forgiveness, or to plan for similar programs in the future, keeping statistical evidence tied to the budget. Generally, our group of advisors is still directing us not to request forgiveness until you absolutely must and if possible, wait for any changes that may be coming following the election. Once you turn in your forgiveness application, the bank has 10 days to turn it into the SBA. Meanwhile, the SBA currently does not have a time frame that requires them to respond.
On the COVID-19 front, it appears we are getting closer to finding a vaccine as cases and hospitalizations begin to rise again. For employers, legal questions continue and SHRM has released further guidance. In California, over 50,000 COVID-19 claims have been reported to the Division of Worker’s Compensation this year.
Nonetheless, retail giant Amazon has successfully fended off its COVID-19 claims. Workers at the warehouse and their family members sued Amazon earlier this year for public nuisance, breach of the duty to protect the health and safety of employees under New York Labor Law (NYLL) Section 200, and failure to timely pay employees for COVID-19 sick leave, which the plaintiffs claimed were earned wages under NYLL Section 191. The court decided that OSHA is ultimately responsible for deciding if Amazon’s workplace policies adequately protect the safety of workers during the pandemic, noting that the claims would fail even if they didn’t defer to OSHA.
Last but not least, we are still working on finding a time for Dialed in with Delta: How to Work from Home the Right Way. If the panelists’ schedules are unable to align, we may record separately and post to our website and social media. Be sure to follow us @deltapeo for a follow-back!