The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.
On April 27, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a new executive order (EO) requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to pay a $15.00 minimum wage to the thousands of workers who are working on or in connection with federal contracts. The new EO, titled “Executive Order on Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” requires contractors to implement the higher minimum wage requirements by early 2022.
On April 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Douglas L. Parker to be assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Parker currently serves as chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
On March 30, 2021, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) hiring benchmark for 2021 would be 5.6 percent. This is a 0.1 percent reduction from the 5.7 percent benchmark in 2020—making it the seventh reduction of the benchmark since its inception in 2014.
On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States. With this change in administration, it is expected that sweeping policy reviews and changes will be forthcoming. The acts of a president over the first few days and weeks of the new administration are seen as an indicator of the priorities and the intentions of that new administration. The Biden administration is no different. President Biden has expressed his intention to pursue a host of policy and regulatory changes over the first 100 days of the administration.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021. President Biden hit the ground running, issuing 17 executive orders, proclamations, memoranda, and similar actions on his first day. Many of these presidential actions have impacts that go beyond the day-to-day activities of the workplace, but employers may still want to have an understanding of these policy changes. Set forth below is a summary of the actions that President Biden took on his first day in office.
On January 20, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. demonstrated he will pursue a broad immigration reform agenda. The new administration has proposed comprehensive legislation to Congress that aims to create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, including so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to this country as children, as well as eliminate green card quotas, reducing lengthy backlogs and improving efficiency for work visa programs. From a business immigration perspective, the proposed efficiency improvements include clearing employment-based green card backlogs and exempting STEM degree holders from green card quotas. It is important to note that this legislative proposal must first pass the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate before being signed into law and does not address high-skilled worker visas such as H-1Bs or L-1s.
According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance website’s leadership team page, Jenny Yang has replaced Craig Leen as director of the agency. Yang previously served on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from 2013 to 2018 and served as a commissioner, vice chair, and chair for the agency (the latter from 2014 to 2017). Yang spearheaded the EEOC’s drive to collect pay data from private employers as part of the EEO-1 report.
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a massive bill (H.R. 133) that would fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2021 while also providing $900 billion in COVID-19 economic relief for employers and individuals. President Trump signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020. Coming in at a total cost of $2.3 trillion and a page count approaching 6,000, in some ways it is easier to explain what is not in the bill, rather than what is covered by the bill. Nevertheless, here are some of the key provisions of the legislation of importance to employers.