The November 2014 midterm elections brought significant changes to the leadership of Congress that will undoubtedly impact the workplace. When the 114th Congress—one of the most diverse in history—convenes in January, new leaders in both chambers will move forward with issues that will impact HR professionals.
Although this 113th Congress has been labeled the “Do Nothing Congress,” having enacted only two percent of the 10,626 bills introduced this session (213 new laws), it was an active year for HR public policy. As 2014 comes to a close, I think it’s important to consider all that SHRM accomplished on behalf of the HR profession in supporting effective workplace policies. Listed below are our Top 10 Public Policy Achievements for 2014:
1. Growing the HR Professional’s Voice on Workplace Policy through the SHRM A-Team
When working to comply with various federal and state laws and regulations, how many times have you wondered if lawmakers had any input from HR experts? Now comprised of a growing network of over 7,600 members, with 386 “Advocacy Captain” HR advocacy leaders in all 50 states, SHRM’s Advocacy Team – or “A-Team” - is crucial to moving the needle with lawmakers on policy issues which could impact the workplace.
2. Creating a Voice for the HR Profession in California on HR Public Policy Issues
SHRM successfully opened a California SHRM State Office in April 2014 with staff advocating before the California legislature and the executive branch on behalf of the HR perspective on various state policy issues.
3. Fighting the NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule
In December, SHRM announced that it will join in a lawsuit against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the legality of the “ambush election” rule. The rule makes several changes to union election procedures designed to simplify and speed up the union election process.
4. Preventing Debarment of Federal Contractors
After extensive congressional education and lobbying efforts, SHRM was able to help successfully remove a provision from the final CRomnibus FY 2015 federal funding bill that would have debarred an employer with even a single Fair Labor Standards Act violation in the last five years from eligibility for federal contracts.
5. Improving Our Nation’s Job Training System
SHRM and its A-Team advocated for passage of the WIOA), one of the only bipartisan federal bills of 2014, to reform our country’s job training system.
6. Advocating for Immigration Reform
SHRM and its strategic affiliate, the Council for Global Immigration, continue to advocate for our three key priorities in the immigration reform debate: 1.) creating a “Trusted Employer” system; 2.) gaining access to skilled employees through the employment-based immigration system; and 3.) providing certainty in hiring through an entirely electronic employment verification system that protects against identity theft.
7. Preserving Employer Flexibility in Compensation Programs
SHRM lead the Employer Coalition on Compensation Equity, which successfully blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate. If passed, this legislation would have limited HR professionals’ flexibility in designing compensation programs and would have outlawed the consideration of many legitimate pay factors such as an employee’s level of education and training, professional experience and salary history.
8. Advocating for Voluntary Workflex Options
Congress had two hearings on this issue in 2014, one in the House and one in the Senate, and SHRM was asked to testify at each. House and Senate Republican Leadership offices have indicated a desire to work with SHRM in 2015 in introducing our ideas on workplace flexibility legislation in the new Congress.
9. Restoring the Standard of Full-Time Employment under Federal Law
SHRM advocated strongly for passage of the Save American Workers Act (H.R.2575) to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s definition of a “full-time employee” for health care coverage purposes.
10. Preventing Expansion of Overtime Coverage
SHRM filed a successful amicus brief in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in December, agreeing with SHRM that employees who are required to pass through a security screening at the end of their shifts are not entitled to overtime pay while in the security line.
Want to be part of our collective advocacy efforts in 2015? Visit SHRM’s HR Policy Action Center online at www.advocacy.shrm.org for all the resources you need to join the A-Team and serve as a valuable advocate for HR in your area.