What are the top employment law changes for 2021?
Mag Bickford and Camille Bryant
Member and Associate | McGlinchey Stafford
As many people might expect, the biggest, overarching employment law issue in 2021 will be the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. With a vaccine on the horizon, employers are asking if they can be mandated and how well workers would comply. Employers will also continue to grapple with what to do if an employee refuses to come to work because of health concerns (yes, they have that right); preventing COVID-related discrimination and harassment claims; changes in policies and procedures regarding telecommuting, absences due to school closures, layoffs (and hopefully bringing people back to work); and other developments. In addition, President-Elect Biden’s choice for secretary of labor (not to mention the impacts of the current lame-duck presidency) will have ripple effects for employers nationwide. Finally, what will the decisions coming out of the Supreme Court look like with a conservative majority justice pool, and how will that impact employers?
Erin W. Latuso
Partner | Forman Watkins & Krutz LLP
With so much focus of lawmakers on the pandemic and pandemic-related laws, new state employment-related laws and regulations are down drastically. in effort to stabilize the fast-emptying trust fund that pays unemployment benefits, the Legislature did amend the Louisiana Employment Security Law to provide a definition of the term “employee” and to exclude independent contactors from the existing definition of “employment.” These changes take effect on January 1, 2021.
Mary Margaret Spell
Partner | Jones Walker LLP
Employee pay is expected to be an early focus of the incoming administration. Efforts to raise the federal minimum wage are likely. We may also see a higher salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime. [Action on] pay equity could mean additional legislation aimed at closing the gender- and race-based pay gaps or pay data collection as seen with EEO-1 Component 2. In addition to extending the COVID-19-related paid leave provisions, we should expect movement toward a more general paid leave law.
Member | Stone Pigman
A Biden Department of Labor will likely seek to increase protections against misclassification of workers as independent contractors, particularly gig economy workers. Biden can also use federal agencies, such as OSHA, to more aggressively pursue workplace rights for employees, including through the imposition of emergency COVID-19 workplace safety rules. If Democrats win a majority in the Senate, the administration may also seek a federally imposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Founder, CEO | Transcendent Law Group
We can expect President Biden to reverse numerous policies instituted under the previous administration. Biden has signaled that he would make DACA permanent and make more high-skilled work visas available. He also will likely reverse the executive order on diversity and inclusion training. It is likely that the National Labor Relations Board and Department of Labor will become more progressive and pro-employee, and OSHA will begin stricter enforcement protocols. Biden will also likely extend the coronavirus-related benefits.