2015 Employment Law & Legislative Conference

Workplace Issues and Member Advocacy – Key Ingredients for a Successful Conference

Mar 31, 2015
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Last week, SHRM and it's affiliate, the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI), hosted nearly 600 HR professionals in Washington, D.C., at the 2015 SHRM Employment Law & Legislative Conference.

This year’s event featured keynote speakers including Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor; Chuck Todd, NBC News’ political director and moderator and managing editor of "Meet the Press"; Sallie Krawcheck, owner of Ellevate, a leading professional women's networking organization committed to the economic empowerment of women; and Dan Abrams, co-anchor of "Nightline" and chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News.

Participants also attended concurrent sessions featuring workplace topics such as immigration reform; health care reform implementation including employer-provided wellness standards; managing employee requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act; workplace bullying; and drug testing in the workplace. In total, over 21 media outlets covered the conference, illustrating that the latest developments out of Washington, D.C., are really having an impact on workforces across the country.

      

The three-day conference concluded with remarks from Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI, above left) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, above right) at breakfast in the Senate Kennedy Caucus Room to over 200 HR professionals. Rep. Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, commented on the committee’s work on immigration reform and the importance of HR professionals to advocate directly with legislators about needed changes to the current system to ensure a legal workforce. McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference, explained the need to update current workplace laws to offer flexibility and to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce. McMorris Rodgers is a co-sponsor of the Working Families Flexibility Act, H.R. 465 a proposal to update the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to allow employers the option of offering their hourly employees the choice of compensatory time off or pay for overtime hours worked. Furthermore, McMorris Rodgers discussed recent House actions to amend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA's) definition of “full-time” employee and to nullify regulations recently finalized by the National Labor Relations Board, known as the Ambush Election rule, to dramatically reduce the time that employers and employees would have to weigh the merits of forming a union in their establishments.

      

Following breakfast, HR advocates from 47 states and Guam (including Sally Roberts of Georgia with Congressman John Lewis and members of Maryland SHRM with Senator Ben Cardin - center) canvassed Capitol Hill to meet with their respective lawmakers’ and their staffs to discuss making improvements to the E-Verify process, amending the ACA’s definition of a full-time employee and the impending FLSA overtime regulations.

To learn more about SHRM’s public policy priorities for 2015, visit HERE.

Other HR Professionals Get Involved in Member Advocacy!

During this year’s conference, HR professionals not only walked the halls of Congress to amplify HR’s voice but also took to social media to express their views on workplace policy. In addition, HR professionals from across the country sent over 330 e-mails to members of Congress, highlighting the need for a more reliable and fail-safe E-Verify process, consistency in the ACA’s definition of a full-time employee, and how changes to the FLSA overtime regulations would impact employers and employees.

To facilitate HR advocacy efforts, SHRM launched a new advocacy app during the conference. The SHRM Advocacy app allows users to view timely legislative information on key workplace issues, take immediate action on legislative alerts using SHRM-provided templates, engage with lawmakers at both the federal and state levels and fellow HR professionals on social media, stay up-to-date on all legislative and agency proposals impacting the workplace - and much more. You can download the SHRM Advocacy app for free in app stores. Click HERE to view an easy tutorial of the app's features.

Although the conference is over, member advocacy continues year round. It is important for HR professionals to remain engaged and serve as a resource to lawmakers as they consider changes to existing workplace laws and develop new policies to meet the needs of an evolving workforce. Member advocacy efforts are essential in shaping future HR public policies. That’s why SHRM encourages HR professionals to join the SHRM Advocacy Team (A-Team).

For more information on how to get engaged in member advocacy or the A-Team, contact Meredith Nethercutt, SHRM’s senior associate, member advocacy, and director of the A-Team, at 703- 535- 6417 or Meredith.Nethercutt@shrm.org.

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