If you went to the refrigerator to grab a cold beverage, you probably missed President Biden’s remarks about “beginning to restore the dignity of work.”
So far during this administration, President Biden has signed a few employment bills into law. You’ve got the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, which I wrote about here in December.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will require employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship. It’s basically the Americans with Disabilities Act for pregnancy. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act provides additional workplace protections for employees who need to express breast milk.
Before that, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 into law. He followed that up by signing the Speak Out Act, which voids any nondisclosure and nondisparagement clauses found in pre-dispute contracts or agreements concerning conduct alleged to constitute sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Last night, he took aim at noncompetes.
Without mentioning either the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed new rule prohibiting employers from imposing noncompetes on their workers or the Workforce Mobility Act to limit the use of noncompete agreements, he did stress that many cashiers at burger places can’t cross the street to take the same job at another burger place to make a couple bucks more.
He also used the SOTU to promote labor legislation, calling upon Congress to “[p]ass the PRO Act because workers have a right to form a union.”
The PRO Act passed the House in both 2019 and 2021, only to die both times in the Senate. With a GOP majority in the House, it stands little chance of success as a standalone bill.
President Biden also asked to “guarantee all workers a living wage.” That could refer to minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sits at $7.25/hr. (Although many states have raised the minimum wage themselves.) It’s also possible that the Department of Labor will attempt to raise the salary-level threshold for exempt employees, currently at $684 per week or $35,568 annually. But, they’ll have to do it without Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who is expected to leave the Biden Administration shortly to become the head of the NHL Players Association.
Finally, President Biden made a plea to “make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, and affordable child care that will enable millions more people to go to work.”
I think this has the best chance of passing. But it’s tough to say which one.
What’s on your wish list? Hit me up and let me know.