Government avoids closure (Beltway Buzz, February 18, 2022) – Employment and HR


United States: Government avoids shutdown (Beltway Buzz, February 18, 2022)

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The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, DC could impact your business.

The government avoids the closure. Perhaps already lacking in professional football, the US Congress this week bet on funding from the federal government. Government funding was scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. on February 18, 2022, but Congress agreed to a three-week rolling resolution through March 11, 2022, avoiding a government shutdown. With the extension, the federal government continues to operate under a funding agreement reached at the end of 2020. This means that President Biden and congressional Democrats have yet to put their imprimatur on federal government funding, which obviously has an impact on regulatory and enforcement programs. in agencies such as the US Department of Labor (DOL).

Senators are calling for the return of paid leave related to COVID-19.The rolling three-week resolution gives Congress more time to assemble the various appropriation bills that will set new government funding levels for fiscal year 2022. As part of this process, a group of fifteen members of the Senate Democratic Caucus hopes that paid leave requirements related to COVID-19 can be included in such legislation. They wrote to President Biden, as well as Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, urging them “to restore and expand the emergency sick and family care leave guaranteed in the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 funding act or in any other COVID relief plan that Congress considers.” Unlike the furlough scheme they helped establish under the First for Families Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the senators want any new scheme to apply to
all employers:

Any new law should ensure that guaranteed leave is accompanied by tax credits for companies with fewer than 500 workers to reimburse them for the costs of providing paid leave; should apply to workers in companies of all sizes; and must provide, at a minimum, 10 days of paid sick and family care leave, including time off to receive — or take a loved one to receive — a vaccination, and to deal with school or daycare closures.

Of course, the return of this program is still a long way off due to ongoing labor market turbulence, as well as legislative filibuster in the Senate. Still, the push for the program’s inclusion in the spending bill is another sign that debates over paid leave will continue to unfold in Washington, D.C.

POTUS Arbitration Exclusion Bill Pending.Employers with alternative dispute resolution programs should be aware that President Biden has yet to sign into law the 2021 law ending forced arbitration for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is important because the bill’s prohibitions “will apply to any dispute or claim that arises or accrues from the date of enactment of [the] Act.”

NLRB to coordinate with IRS, DOJ and FTC. On February 10, 2022, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to regional offices outlining the Council’s ongoing efforts to cooperate with other federal agencies. The report follows the publication of the report of the White House Task Force on Organizing and Empowering Workers, which calls on federal agencies “to work more closely together to facilitate worker organizing and collective bargaining.” In addition to mentioning the NLRB’s recent cooperative agreements with the DOL and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, General Counsel Abruzzo said she “continues her efforts to build partnerships with [the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS)], [the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ)]Antitrust Division, and [the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)] fight against methods of unfair competition which undermine workers’ rights. According to the note, these partnerships aim to:

  • “reduce the incidence of employee classification errors and ensure that employers pay their employees and social contributions correctly”;

  • share “data about acquisitions, mergers, or similar organizational actions by the employer that could harm organizing or bargaining efforts”; and

  • “to pay greater attention to non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-competition agreements that harm fair competition and violate the rights of employees under Article 7 of the [National Labor Relations Act].”

OSHA updates truck standard. On February 16, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a notice of proposed regulation to update its motorized industrial cart standard. As the standard has not been updated since 1971, the proposal aims to ensure that trucks covered – such as “forklifts, tractors, platform forklifts, motorized hand trucks and other specialized industrial trucks“- are designed and manufactured in accordance with the latest American National Standards Institute (ANSI) industrial truck safety criteria. It is important to note that under the proposal, “employers could acquire and use industrial trucks vehicles manufactured before the effective date of the final rule. as long as the employer can demonstrate that their design and construction provide worker protection at least equal to the protection provided in the updated standard. Comments are due by May 17, 2022.

Supreme Court case. Two hundred and thirty-two years ago this week, in 1790, John Rutledge was sworn in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Rutledge played several important roles in the early formation of the United States. Born in South Carolina and trained as a lawyer, Rutledge served in the Continental Congress, as governor of South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, and then as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. After a year as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and hearing no cases, Rutledge resigned (which would never happen today) in 1791 to become Chief Justice of South Carolina’s highest court. In June 1795, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay resigned to become Governor of New York, and President George Washington gave Rutledge a warrant of suspension to replace Jay as the second Supreme Court Chief Justice. . But when the U.S. Senate returned in December 1795, it rejected Rutledge’s nomination, in part because of Rutledge’s outspoken stance against the Treaty Jay with Great Britain. As a result, Rutledge resigned after serving 138 days as Chief Justice – the record for shortest tenure in that position.

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