New President, New Workplace?

November elections may shape employment policies

By Desda Moss Jun 21, 2016
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2016 Annual Conference & Exposition
2016 Annual Conference & Exposition
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As voters head to the polls months from now to elect a new president and decide which party or parties will control the 115th Congress, several key issues affecting the workplace will take center stage.

Michael Aitken, vice president of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), told attendees June 20 during a concurrent session of the SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition that public-policy issues affecting paid parental leave, immigration reform, tax reform and compensation equity will play a key role in shaping the political landscape.

“SHRM has been active on many of these issues in the 114th Congress and in the executive branch, and will continue to be going forward,” Aitken said.

He noted that this year’s election will take place against a backdrop of strong anti-incumbent public sentiment and deep dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of government.

With presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump within 6 percentage points of each other in recent polls, Aitken predicted that, if the gap between the candidates doesn’t widen following this summer’s political conventions, the November election “will come down to the wire, with voter turnout being key.”

Regardless of who wins the White House and which party controls Congress, there are several developments that will command attention from lawmakers and the next administration that employers and HR professionals should follow closely, Aitken said:

  • Efforts to “clamp down” on employer-based immigration, including H-1B visas and other programs that target highly skilled workers.
  • A focus on compensation equity and attempts to reduce gender-based pay disparities.
  • Initiatives that would make significant changes to employer-sponsored benefits as part of tax reform efforts.
  • Bipartisan efforts to revisit the issue of criminal background checks.

On Wednesday, the SHRM Government Affairs team will lead a delegation of HR professionals to meet with representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss legislative issues affecting the workplace.  

SHRM will also have a high-profile, nonpartisan presence at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18-21, and at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25-28. SHRM’s Government Affairs team will provide updates to SHRM members on convention developments.

Desda Moss is managing editor for HR Magazine.

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