With a change in presidential administration comes a shift in priorities and enforcement postures. This is particularly true when the change in administration also involves a change of political party. Generally speaking, Democratic administrations are seen as more employee-friendly, while Republican administrations are seen as more employer-friendly. Already in the early days of the Biden Administration, we have seen executive orders rescinded, and new orders signed, staffing changes and pending regulations from the Trump Administration put on hold. No doubt in the coming weeks and months, you will read many articles about such changes.
Two items in Biden’s American Rescue Plan that are of particular interest to our members are the possible reinstatement of paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the potential of an increase to federal minimum wage.
The recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act extended FFCRA tax credits for qualifying employers through March 31, 2021, but it did not extend employees’ entitlement to additional paid leave. President Biden has asked Congress to reinstate FFCRA leave through September 30, 2021, and expand coverage to federal employees and employers with 500 or more employees and eliminate the exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees. Biden’s plan would extend up to 14 weeks of paid leave to employees with child care responsibilities when care or school is closed due to the pandemic; for those who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms; or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for employees to get vaccinated. Tax credits for employers would continue, as would state and local government reimbursements. Should additional FFCRA leave be extended, our members operating in states like Arizona and Colorado with paid sick leave requirements will be subject to federal and state requirements.
Federal Minimum Wage
President Biden has also asked Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. His plan would also end the reduced minimum wage rate for tipped employees and disabled persons. Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and has been the same since 2009. Many states – and some municipalities – have passed laws requiring a higher minimum wage. Employers must pay the highest minimum wage rate that applies: federal, state, or municipal. Here are the 2021 state requirements for the main states where our members are located:
Past proposals to increase federal minimum wage have been highly contentious.
We will monitor these developments and keep members informed.