ALEXANDRIA, Va. — SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) announced the omnibus spending bill passed by the House and Senate includes provisions advanced by SHRM to support telehealth services, workplace mental health, skills-based hiring, pregnant workers, and the caregiving workforce.
Thanks to the advocacy of thousands of SHRM members, the spending bill includes a two-year extension for pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services for workers with high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts. Improved access to telehealth allows workers to access more health care options—including mental health services—at their convenience.
"Pre-deductible coverage helps employees because it allows insurance providers to cover telehealth services without requiring a copay or deductible upfront," said SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Public Affairs Emily M. Dickens. "Employers need the flexibility to design benefit plans that improve employees' well-being and help retain top talent. I am grateful to our members for engaging with lawmakers from across the nation to secure this extension."
SHRM also worked throughout the year to secure support for language in the spending bill that strengthens workplace mental health. Provisions submitted by SHRM call on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to work with the states to implement education programs that help employers provide mental health assistance to their employees.
The omnibus bill will also help build more equitable and inclusive workplaces by promoting skills-based hiring. In language supported by SHRM, the bill directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to provide guidance to employers explaining how to use skills-based employment tests in a manner that complies with federal regulations.
"Skills-based hiring better recognizes the abilities of all workers, regardless of where these skills are learned," said Dickens. "SHRM recently testified on this topic before the EEOC, and we will continue engaging with federal regulators and Congress, sharing the knowledge and expertise of our members, to remove barriers to hiring untapped talent."
Throughout the 117th Congress, SHRM and its members actively advocated for inclusion of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in the spending bill. This legislation features important workplace protections for pregnant workers while ensuring employers have flexibility and clarity regarding how to best ensure pregnant employees can remain in the workplace.
The PWFA closely aligns with the Americans with Disabilities Act, triggering a familiar, interactive process once an employee requests an accommodation to perform the essential functions of their position. Importantly, leave may be provided as an accommodation only after the interactive process cannot identify a reasonable accommodation within the workplace.
"SHRM mobilized HR professionals and business leaders to help lawmakers understand this legislation will lead to more inclusive workplaces and better work environments," said Dickens. "When expectant mothers are better able to thrive at work, families, communities, and businesses prosper. Again, I am so proud of SHRM's advocacy on this front."
SHRM also led efforts this year to make it easier for workers to secure quality care for loved ones. At the urging of the Generation Cares Coalition founded by SHRM, the spending bill calls on the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to support the expansion of the skilled care workforce to provide home- and community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities.
Generation Cares also urged Congress to strengthen the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which helps families access high-quality learning experiences that support children while allowing parents to participate in the workforce. Congress increased funding for this program to $1.8 billion—an increase of approximately 33 percent.
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies rely on SHRM to be their go-to resource for all things work and their business partner in creating next-generation workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at SHRM.org and on Twitter @SHRM.