In his first days in office, President Joe Biden has issued several Executive Orders and Actions affecting employers. As of this writing, January 22, 2020, these are the current Orders.
- On Wednesday, he signed an Executive Order preventing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Order instructs all federal agencies to Implement Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. (2020) and adds to it by directing any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
- Also, on Wednesday, he signed an Executive Order requiring mask-wearing on federal properties. This includes on-duty or on-site federal employees, on-site federal contractors, and all persons in federal buildings or on federal lands.
- On Thursday, he signed an additional Executive Order requiring masks to be worn in airports, on commercial aircraft, trains, ferries, intercity bus services, and all forms of public transportation. The mandate applies to all passengers and employees.
- On Thursday, he signed an Executive Order directing the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to do the following within two weeks of the Order:
- Consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, are necessary, and if such standards are determined to be necessary, issue them by March 15, 2021;
- review the enforcement efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related to COVID-19 and identify any short-, medium-, and long-term changes that could be made to better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement; and
- issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there might not be a lot of change to existing OSHA guidance, one result could be that employers are expected to require mask-wearing in the workplace. This is not a rule as of now; Employers Council is keeping an eye on it and will let members know of any developments.
- Two Orders issued by the outgoing Trump Administration, the DOL Final Rule on Independent Contractors and the DOL Final Rule Regarding Tip Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, have yet to be implemented. The Biden Administration has put a freeze on these rules while they are under review. Employers are advised to wait for additional guidance before making changes to business practices.
Employers Council anticipates many more actions to come in the near future and will update members as needed. In the interim, please call us with questions.