Donald Trump’s First Week – How Has HR Been Impacted?

February 2, 2017

It can be tough being the new kid. Will you fit in? Will you know anyone there? Where will you sit for lunch? BUT, if your name is Donald Trump and you just moved to Washington to take the job of President of the United States, being the “new kid” is like something no one’s ever dreamed up.

Mr. Trump’s first week as POTUS has been a whirlwind – complete with inauguration rituals, Executive Orders, high-powered meetings, twitter wars and more. Without a doubt, President Trump has hit the ground running in Washington. Let’s take a look at the impacts of Trump’s first week on our workplace.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Shake-UP

On his first day, President Trump hit the ground running and set out to tackle one of his top campaign promises, to repeal and replace the ACA. On January 20th, he signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to ease the burden of the ACA by waiving or delaying the taxes, penalties, or other regulatory burdens of the law.

What does that mean for employers? In a recent article for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Edward Fensholt, Senior Vice President and Director of Compliance Services at Lockton, a benefits brokerage and consultancy based in Kansas City, Mo., reported that should the IRS determine that the Executive Order applies to the employer mandate, “it might waive, defer or grant exemptions from the employer mandate penalty and the reporting obligation, because the mandate and its reporting obligation impose a tax, penalty or regulatory burden on employers.”

But don’t throw out your 1095 forms just yet. In a recent statement, the IRS indicated that they are “currently reviewing the Executive Order to determine its implications for tax administration.” For right now, the Affordable Care Act is still the law, and employers should be prepared to meet the reporting deadlines.

New Leadership at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

On January 25, President Trump appointed Victoria Lipnic as the acting chairwoman of the EEOC. Lipnic brings approximately 7 years as an EEOC commissioner to the position and will be replacing the previous chairwoman, Jenny Yang.

With the new chairperson, businesses may be in for a “less burdensome” EEOC. When it comes to the finalized EEO-1 regulation to collect pay data by gender, race and ethnicity, Ms. Lipnic may feel the agency is overstepping its authority. In a recent article for Law360, David Garland of Epstein Becker & Green PC noted, “[Lipnic] made it clear in public statements that there is a need to balance the collection of data and information with the burden placed on employers. She’s mindful when engaging in regulations and rulemaking of what burdens they impose on employers. She’ll ask, ‘Is there a more efficient way of accomplishing [the agency’s] goals?”

Immigration Action

In the midst of large-scale controversy, on January 27th, President Trump signed the “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals” Executive Order, freezing all immigration and visa entrance for individuals from seven nations. The order created widespread confusion in airports worldwide as green card holders and those with H-1B visas were detained or turned around.

Since Friday, the green card issue is reportedly resolved, and Defense Secretary James Mattis has asked for exemptions for those that have aided the military in their efforts in the affected countries.

Despite court challenges, the immigration ban is poised to affect companies that have workers from the affected areas. The technology and academia sectors have already begun to feel the sting of the order with many workers from the affected regions unable to get family here or worried about traveling to the affected areas to visit family. In a recent NPR interview, some universities report students and professors unable to return to the U.S.

SHRM reports that other HR professionals are also beginning to look at how their workforce could be impacted by such immigration reforms. Employers are encouraged to review credentials for new hires that need a visa and employees’ work permit renewals.

Going forward, employers are encouraged to join their local SHRM chapter for access to their immigration committees for further help. In addition, be sure to follow Netchex on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for updates on the HR issues and updates on the Trump administration’s evolving workplace.

 

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