Each presidential transition brings changes to the HR landscape. When President Donald Trump took office in 2016, he overturned or revised many of his predecessor’s federal regulations, a common trend between administrations of opposing parties. It is also something likely to continue under President-elect Joe Biden.
With any legislative change—regardless of intent or outcome—employers must adapt quickly or risk penalties. This can mean redrafting internal policies, recategorizing workers, changing organizational priorities, rewriting employee handbooks and any other HR responsibility. Essentially, the more prepared an HR team is, the easier it will be for them to succeed in a changing landscape.
Some of the policies upon which Biden campaigned may not come to fruition. Moreover, wide-sweeping workplace changes may be stifled due to congressional gridlock, though Biden will retain the ability to affect change through executive orders.
However, thinking about these issues early can help inform operational planning and prevent last-minute scrambling when change arrives. To that end, this article discusses potential changes employers can expect during a Biden presidency.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Health care has been a particularly contentious topic for over a decade, ever since the ACA was introduced. Biden supports building off the ACA’s framework and intends to expand a public health option that’s similar to Medicare. Granted, an upcoming (at the time of this writing) Supreme Court case may significantly impact any efforts.
As things currently stand under Biden’s proposed model, the government’s offering would directly compete with insurance providers. The public option would also be available to anyone—even if their employers offer qualified-health plans. Specifics are unclear, but this indicates that small employers may be able to save money by having their workers rely on public health coverage (as opposed to offering it themselves).
In addition to an expanded version of the ACA, Biden also supports Medicare expansion. He proposes lowering the eligibility age to 60 (from 65). Since many employees delay their retirement until they are eligible for Medicare coverage, workers may start retiring earlier if this plan is enacted.
Labor Rules and the Future of Work
Biden is very pro-labor, as evidenced by his campaign platforms, and may return to Obama-era labor rules—many of which are viewed as burdens by employers. Specifically, Biden is in favor of a bill called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.Download the PDF