The Biden administration is sure to bring changes to employment and employee benefits. Get ahead of the curve by learning about some of the President-elect’s plans.
Each time a new administration takes power, plenty of federal rules and regulations tend to change. President-elect Joe Biden isn’t expected to be an exception, especially after President Donald Trump’s journey to undo much of the work of former President Obama’s administration — which then Vice President Biden certainly contributed to.
When federal changes come, businesses of all sizes have to prepare to adapt in order to avoid penalties for noncompliance. For small businesses that don’t have their own established HR department and that tend to operate with thinner margins, staying on top of these changes is particularly important. For those looking to get ahead of the curve, here’s a crash course in some of the ways that Biden’s administration is expected to impact employment and employee benefits — especially now that the Senate is also under Democratic control for the next 2 years.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, has been a contentious subject for years. While Trump tried unsuccessfully to dismantle it, according to Biden’s website and his months of campaigning, he plans to maintain the program and build off of it to expand coverage. Biden “opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law – including efforts by Republicans, and efforts by Democrats,” his website says. “Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.”
A particularly important point for small businesses: Biden intends to keep the employer mandate, requiring that all businesses with 50 for more full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees provide affordable healthcare insurance to its workers.
Medicare and the public insurance option
Part of Biden’s plan to build off the Affordable Care Act is to add a public insurance option like Medicare to the mix.
Part of Biden’s plan to build off the Affordable Care Act is to add a public insurance option like Medicare to the mix. A public option like this is intended to give everyone — whether they have employment-based insurance, purchase private insurance themselves, or have no insurance at all — an option for affordable health insurance.
The idea is that the public option will be the result of negotiating lower prices with hospitals and healthcare providers. The public option will also “better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments,” Biden’s website says. This aims to “bring relief” to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.
Biden has backed The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act and the 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave that it outlines. Under the FAMILY Act, workers would receive up to 12 weeks of leave with partial income funded through a payroll tax. The act strives to cover all workers regardless of the size of the company they work for.
Workers would be eligible for this leave when they need time off to address:
- Their own health issues (including pregnancy and recovery from childbirth)
- A serious health condition of dependents like children, parents, spouses, or domestic partners; the adoption of a child, and
- Military-related caregiving and leave needs
As Workest has covered in depth, the Biden administration has called for a $15 federal minimum wage and ending the tipped minimum wage. Biden’s website explains that he also supports indexing the minimum wage which means automatically adjusting the minimum wage to keep up with the pace of costs of living increases, typically inflation. Biden instead plans to base the indexing off of the median hourly wage “so that low-wage workers’ wages keep up with those of middle income workers,” according to his website.
the Biden administration has called for a $15 federal minimum wage and ending the tipped minimum wage.
Labor rules and regulations
Biden is in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Not only would the bill make it significantly harder to classify employers as independent contractors, but Biden wants to take it even further by baking in protections for workers’ ability to organize into unions and introduce penalties — even criminal ones — for executives who interfere with their workers’ efforts to organize.
Immigration and employment-based visas
Biden intends to undo much of what the Trump administration did to limit visas, green cards, guest worker programs, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that extended protections to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors.
In addition to outlining a path to citizenship for immigrants (particularly agricultural workers), Biden’s website also outlines plans to increase the number of employment-based visas available, such as temporary visas for seasonal employees and high-skilled visas. Biden also supports family-based immigration.
While it is yet to be seen how many of these plans will come to fruition and to what extent, it’s certain that changes will be coming. By staying ahead of changes before they arrive, you’re already doing what you need to in order to set your small business up for success as inevitable changes do roll in.