Regulatory Update

No Summer Break for Agency Activities Impacting the Workplace

Jul 29, 2015

July tends to be one of the busiest months in Washington, as lawmakers and lobbyists work hard to advance legislation through Congress before adjourning for the August recess. This summer, however, is particularly busy with regard to workplace public-policy issues—not those being considered in Congress, but those emanating from the regulatory branch of government.

Here's a sampling of other HR issues on the regulatory agenda for this summer in addition to the overtime regulations rewrite:

  • Fiduciary Rule—SHRM submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) much-anticipated regulations outlining when a person providing investment advice with respect to an employee benefit plan or individual retirement account is considered a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The proposed rule, although modified since it was first published in 2010, has garnered opposition from some within the regulated community. Members of both the House and Senate have also expressed concern about whether the DOL properly engaged in interagency communication during preparation of the rule. Committees in both the House and Senate recently held hearings to discuss the merits and challenges of the proposed rule. In addition, the DOL announced that it will gather additional public input through hearing beginning on August 10.
  • Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order—The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy held a roundtable discussion of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and its proposed implementing regulations. The proposed regulations would require federal contractors to disclose violations of 14 federal employment laws and their state equivalents for a three-year period preceding contract issuance and every six months thereafter, as well as to disclose violations of their subcontractors. Debbie Norris, vice president of HR for Merrick & Company in Denver, and a member of the SHRM Advocacy Team testified on the impact these regulations will have on federal contractors, especially those that are small to mid-sized. Norris is pictured above during the hearing with Lafe Solomon, Senior Labor Compliance Advisor at DOL, who is overseeing the development of the rulemaking.
  • Independent Contractor Guidance—The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division on July 15 issued interpretive guidance on classification of independent contractors. In this document, the DOL embraces an expansive definition of the word “employ” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and suggests that if the economic realities test, commonly applied to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, is viewed in light of the expansive definition, “most workers are employees under the FLSA.”

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