I always click on those “And you won’t believe No…” posts.
How about you?
But, seriously, last week, President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced his American Rescue Plan through which he plans to “change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic recovery and invest in racial justice.”
The overview Fact Sheet is 19 pages. To save you time and effort, I sifted through it for the employment-related stuff. (Who loves ya?) Below is a summary of how this Plan could impact your workplace.
- OSHA expansion. President-elect wants Congress to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a “COVID-19 Protection Standard” so that workers not typically covered by OSHA receive protection from unsafe working conditions and retaliation. And, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional funding for OSHA enforcement and grant funding, including for the Susan Harwood grant program, for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19.
- Expand unemployment insurance again. Congress would approve a $400 per-week unemployment insurance supplement to help hard-hit workers cover household expenses. This would cover self-employed individuals too.
- Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.
- FFCRA becomes mandatory again (and expands).
- More employers are covered. President-elect Biden wants Congress to restore the FFCRA while eliminating exemptions for large businesses (employers with more than 500) and small businesses (less than 50 employees). Also, healthcare workers and first responders get these benefits too.
- Paid FMLA. The president-elect plans to provide over 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave to help parents with additional caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed; for people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for people needing to take time to get the vaccine.
- Federal workers get paid leave too. The Plan includes paid leave protections for approximately 2 million Americans who work for the federal government.
- Leave benefit capped at $1,400. Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per week for eligible workers.
- No tax credits for larger employers. The government would provide a refundable tax credit to state and local employers and private-sector companies with fewer than 500 employees. Larger businesses must fund the leave themselves.
- FFCRA expires on September 30, 2021.
- Back hazard pay for frontline workers. This appears to be more aspirational than anything else because the plan does not include any detail of how Congress would accomplish this.
There is much more to the American Rescue Plan than what I have summarized above. So feel free to peruse it for yourselves and let me know what you think. Actually, don’t. I’ll skip the Monday morning belly-aching.
Oh, by the way, the total cost is estimated at $1.9 trillion (with a “TR”).