Are Employers Experiencing the Beginning of a Shift in the Regulatory Environment?

There are a number of early indicators that employers may finally see some relief in the burdensome regulatory environment that burgeoned under the Obama administration.
Encouraging signs toward a more business-friendly environment include:
• On 2/15/17, the House passed two resolutions to block the DOL’s rules requiring employers without workplace retirement plans to automatically enroll employees in state- or local-government IRA programs through payroll deductions.

• On 2/15/17, the IRS announced that it would not reject taxpayers’ 2016 tax returns that are missing health coverage information (a requirement put into place under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in order to assess penalties against taxpayers who chose not to elect coverage). The IRS indicated the change was due to President Trump’s executive order directing agencies to minimize the ACA’s regulatory burden. While the individual mandate is still technically in place and penalty provisions are allegedly being enforced, this action may be a significant brick in the eventual dismantling of the ACA wall.

• In early February, the House passed on a bipartisan basis (236-187) a SHRM-supported resolution to block the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, also known as the “blacklisting” regulations. The Senate is expected to pass a similar resolution, which needs only a simple majority (51 votes) for passage, and President Trump is expected to sign the resolution into law.

• President Trump ordered reviews of the regulations implementing the Dodd—Frank financial reform law, including a controversial rule that requires certain businesses to disclose the ratio of median worker pay to CEO compensation.

• On 1/30/17, President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new rule they issue.

• On 3/1/17, the House voted block an OSHA rule that would have extended the agency’s authority to issue citations for record-keeping rule violations from six months to about five years.

• Trump announced budget plans which include increased spending in areas such as military and defense spending, and has said that those dollars will come from decreased spending in areas such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It’s going to be an interesting ride for Human Resources and employers in general over the new few months and years!
By Lynn Scotch, SPAHRA Chapter

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