Regulatory Round-up

Obama Regulatory Agenda Heats Up with the Onset of Summer in Washington

Jun 12, 2015

Often times as summer’s heat and humidity rise in Washington, the pace in Congress and the federal agencies slows a bit. Staffers head to the beach, while legislators take extended breaks from town for the 4th of July holiday and month-long, annual August recess. But that’s not the case for the Obama administration in the summer of 2015.

Here’s a snapshot of the regulatory agenda brewing of late:

  • Overtime Exemptions under Fair Labor Standards Act – Although the Department of Labor (DOL) has not released its proposed changes to overtime exemptions under the FLSA, all indications are that it will be released for public review later this month. SHRM has been actively engaging with DOL on behalf of HR professionals and as Chair of a larger employer groups known as the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity. Watch out for SHRM updates on the status of the proposed rule and what kinds of changes DOL in planning to make regarding the salary threshold, the duties test, and other exemption issues. It will be important to provide DOL with detailed information on how the proposed rule could affect your workplace once its details are made public. We've created a special section on SHRM's HR Policy Action Center dedicated to content and advocacy efforts surrounding the upcoming overtime regulations
  • EEOC Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs– The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule in April describing the EEOC’s view of how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of a group health plan. The proposed rule is focused on defining what type and level of incentive is allowable for a voluntary wellness program. The proposed rule also clarifies that employees must be allowed accommodations needed to qualify for any wellness incentive. SHRM has solicited member input on how the rule could affect workplace wellness which will be incorporated into the SHRM comment due next week. The EEOC has stated that it intends to issue a proposed rule later this summer on wellness programs under the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) – President Obama signed WIOA into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in finding employment and to match employers with the skilled workers they need. Proposed rules to implement WIOA, the first update of the public workforce system in 15 years, have been published for public comment. SHRM plans to submit comments, due June 15, which focus on the need to make the public workforce system more demand-driven and focused on employer skill needs by creating a closer connection with employers at the local level. It will also include input from SHRM members who have experience working with the public workforce system.
  • OSHA Best Practices Guide on Restroom Access – On June 1, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.” Billed as a “best practice” guide, OSHA includes a disclaimer indicating that the guide is not a new standard or regulation and does not create any new legal obligations. Citing employer obligations to maintain safe and healthy work environments, the guide recommends that transgender workers have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and includes practical strategies for addressing bathroom use in the workplace. This guide follows a 2014 Executive Order prohibiting job discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and the federal government.

Stay tuned for future developments. As always, SHRM will keep you up-to-date on any regulatory action having the potential to impact HR professionals.


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