Now that the House is controlled by the Democrats, members have introduced several bills with an emphasis on workforce protections including a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and “Ban the Box” legislation that would prohibit federal employers and contractors from asking applicants for criminal background history. Finding consensus these days is a challenge in Congress. Some of these bills may pass the House, but it will remain an uphill climb to ultimately pass any bi-partisan legislation once it reaches the Republican-controlled Senate. Other items we are monitoring:
Paycheck Fairness Act Is Gaining Steam
On February 26, 2019, the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor voted to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA). The bill would require employers to report, among other things, job salaries, promotions, and terminations to the federal government, broken down by gender and race. The PFA has been introduced 11 times over the years and has never gained enough steam to be signed into law. However, we expect the PFA to pass the House now that Democrats are in control.
Additional Workplace Safety Protections
Last month, House Democrats also reintroduced the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PAWA). The bill would expand OSHA’s General Duty Clause to include not only direct-hire employees but all others working in any establishment where the employer controls workplace conditions. The bill would also reverse the recent rollback of OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule and reinstate the "Volks” rule. In addition, the House also introduced the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act which would mandate workplace violence prevention plans for health care and social service employers.
Proposed FMLA Amendment
Last month, Congress reintroduced the Parental Bereavement Act of 2019. The bipartisan proposal would amend the FMLA to include death of a child as a qualifying event that would help families grieving the loss of a child take time off work.
CSALs for Government Contractors
On February 22, 2019, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) announced that it is going to post its next Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL) in the OFCCP’s FOIA Library in mid-to-late March 2019. The CSAL is simply a courtesy notice that the OFCCP has historically send via U.S. mail in advance of the actual scheduling letters to the contractor’s physical establishment. This will be the first time that the OFCCP posts the CSAL in the FOIA Library and does not mail advanced contractor notifications to individual establishments. Therefore, they are strongly encouraging contractors to subscribe to OFCCP Email Updates through their website to receive timely notification of the CSAL and other compliance assistance resources real-time. In addition to compliance reviews, the new list will include Section 503 Focused Reviews and compliance checks as outlined in a recent Affirmative Action Program Verification Initiative directive.
FLSA Exemption Proposed Rules Will Be Released Soon
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) salary threshold has been on hold since November 2016. The proposal is expected this month and will require a comment period that will last several months. Then, the Department of Labor will need time to review the comments (the last time, there were more than 260,000 comments) before any final rule is issued. It is expected the rule (once finalized) would not take effect until at least 2020. And there is much speculation that the proposed salary level will be far less than the 2016 version of $47,476 annually—more likely in the $30,000 to $34,000 range.