According to a recent Paychex survey of business leaders, government regulation and complexity are hurting the profitability and growth potential of small U.S. companies. That’s the response of more than half (55 percent) of the 300-plus business leaders polled in a Paychex survey a few months prior to the 2016 presidential election. Government regulation and complexity came in second — after health care — as the top concern of small-business owners nationwide.
Now that the voting is over and President-elect Trump prepares to take office, several employment-related topics promise to be at the forefront in 2017: paid leave laws, equal pay, and workplace safety regulations. Businesses of every size are paying close attention.
Paid Leave Laws
As a nominee, Trump didn’t say much about his position on paid leaves. He did put forth a federal plan to provide up to six weeks of paid maternity leave to eligible women using the existing unemployment insurance program. Benefits of up to $300 per week would come from tightening enforcement of unemployment insurance fraud.
Trump has proposed a tax deduction for childcare expenses, available to taxpayers who take the standard deduction, as well as those who itemize their deductions. His plan would create dependent-care saving accounts that allow families to set aside funds for child care, as well as elder care for parents or adult dependents. These new accounts would permit both tax-deductible contributions and tax-free appreciation, year over year. Under current law, people can obtain dependent-care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) only when they’re offered by an employer. Such FSAs do not allow balances to accumulate.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Equal pay will continue to be a hot topic. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s new EEO-1 reporting requirements will be effective next year (pending any action by the new administration to roll it back) which will require businesses with 100 or more employees to report pay data to the federal government to help identify possible pay disparities. Various states are also reviewing their own equal pay laws and considering legislation to expand employer restrictions and obligations.
U.S. women still don’t have pay parity with men. Women today earn about 79 cents for every dollar that men get paid. During the campaign, Trump provided no specifics on the pay equity issue. However, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, said her father “will fight for equal pay for equal work.”
The President-elect is likely to scale back some of the pro-union policies and executive orders created under President Obama, as well as recent OSHA workplace-safety regulations on businesses. This general reduction in federal regulation in the employment realm may spur a compensatory increase in regulations and legislation at the state and local levels.
On Dec. 6, 2016, the outgoing head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said he believes President-elect Trump won’t alter federal workplace safety rules. David Michaels told Bloomberg BNA that “the Trump administration will want to do the right thing.” But others aren’t so sure. Many in business and safety fields anticipate cutbacks to OSHA rulemaking and enforcement. The head of OSHA reports to the Secretary of Labor.
Next: A More Forgiving Regulatory Climate?
Given the pro-business background of Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor — Andrew Puzder, a fast-food CEO, businesses may logically anticipate looser regulations around the corner.
Check with Paychex for updates and analysis of the regulatory arena under President Trump.