Capitol Hill Update

Summer’s Heating Up, as Is SHRM’s Congressional Labor Policy Agenda

Jul 10, 2015
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Summer is heating up in Washington, D.C., just in time for the annual migration of agency funding bills in Congress that contain important workplace public policy provisions of note for the HR profession.

This year, congressional leaders hope to advance as many appropriations bills as possible before funding for the federal government runs out after September 30, 2015. Of particular interest to HR professionals, the full Senate and House Appropriations Committees have advanced for the first time in recent years funding bills for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services. Both of the bills for the DOL include provisions strongly supported by SHRM on behalf of 275,000 HR professionals that would:

  • Block further changes to the joint-employer standard by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • Block the NLRB ambush election rule, which became effective on April 14, 2015.
  • Eliminate the expansion of micro-unions.

While it remains uncertain whether Congress will pass a final version of the DOL funding bill and forward it to President Barack Obama for his consideration before the end of the fiscal year, a much larger bill combining multiple appropriations bills (including the DOL funding bill, should Congress fail to move it on its own) is likely to receive a vote later this fall. SHRM will strongly encourage and advocate on behalf of the profession that any final DOL appropriations bill include these important labor priorities.

Also of interest to HR professionals, on June 17, 2015, Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Pregnancy Discrimination Amendment Act (H.R. 2800 and S. 1590, respectively). In response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Young v. UPS, the bill would amend the “comparators” language in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by clarifying that a pregnant employee temporarily unable to do her job due to the pregnancy must be treated the same as an employee who is temporarily impaired to do a job, in which the working conditions are similar and both employees are employed by the same employer. It’s unclear whether this bill will see action any time soon, but there remains bipartisan interest in continuing to address the issue of accommodation for pregnant employees in the workplace.

Stay tuned for more labor policy updates from the SHRM Government Affairs team throughout the summer!

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