As voters cast their ballots in the midterm elections, employers will want to watch for the results that matter for business. Michael J. Lotito, shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C., predicts Republicans will gain at least a couple seats in the Senate and snatch an operational majority, he told HR Dive in an interview. If that happens, Lotito said, employers will likely see some of President Donald Trump's nominees — some of whom are destined for the U.S. Department of Labor — considered and approved at a faster rate.
If Democrats win the majority back, labor is likely to be the name of their game. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said labor would sit "at the top of our list early January 2019" if his party nabbed the majority. If Democrats' labor bills from the past two years offer any insight as to what could lay ahead, proposals could strengthen the National Labor Relations Board, bolster unions' power and overturn key U.S. Supreme Court decisions, according to POLITICO.
Employers will need to keep their eyes trained on the political goings on at the federal level, especially with any changes the midterms may bring on. But Lotito emphasized that business leaders must consider the morphing laws and regulations occurring at the state and local levels, too.
"So much of the activity that's really burdensome from an employer perspective is all those different rules and regulations in the states: paid leave, scheduling," Lotito said. "If you have states where governors have changed or other leaders, even at a lower level, have changed, that could definitely have an impact on proposal legislation in the last year, regulations and the like."
This year, voters around the country generally will weigh in two topics with major employment-related implications: marijuana laws and minimum wage. We've gathered up our coverage to create a go-to guide as midterm results pour in.
Federal and state laws regarding marijuana clash with each other in a couple ways. It's a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which means it's illegal. But many states have legalized the drug for medicinal and sometimes recreational use. Depending on the state, some employers may have an obligation to accommodate employees who use marijuana for medical reasons, which may call for more relaxed drug policies. Some employers have voluntarily taken this approach as a way to compete for talent.
As of June, there are approximately 30 jurisdictions that have medical marijuana statues. Of those, only 10 pertain to recreational use, Linda Hollinshead, a partner in the Philadelphia office of Duane Morris LLP, previously told HR Dive.
The following marijuana measures appear on midterm ballots, according to Ballotpedia:
- Michigan Proposal 1, Marijuana Legalization Initiative
- Missouri Amendment 2, Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative
- Missouri Amendment 3, Medical Marijuana and Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute Initiative
- Missouri Proposition C, Medical Marijuana and Veterans Healthcare Services, Education, Drug Treatment, and Public Safety Initiative
- North Dakota Measure 3, Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative
- Utah Proposition 2, Medical Marijuana Initiative
Maine becomes first state to protect marijuana use outside of work: As of February 2018, employers in the state can't test applicants for the drug, nor can they discriminate against workers for using it.
Marijuana in the workplace: Balancing competing obligations: Employers can reconcile conflicting laws to keep the workplace safe, compliant and attractive.
Changing marijuana laws and the opioid crisis are prompting employer action: Employers may need to reconsider drug testing and use policies — both to accommodate new laws and reach out to those struggling with addiction.
Employers should rethink zero-tolerance marijuana policies, outplacement firm says: In today's tight labor market, employers may want to consider whether their rules and testing policies are truly necessary.
Fewer employers opting to test for marijuana use: Legalization, combined with a tight labor market, has driven some employers to rethink their drug testing policies.
Marijuana training programs may offer a roadmap for emerging trades: The industry could easily represent the future of training for trade skills, if state boards see success in their attempts to prepare a workforce essentially from scratch.
Thirty-seven jurisdictions rang in the new year in January by increasing minimum wage. On July 1, 2018, another 18 jurisdictions passed minimum wage hikes. The federal minimum wage may remain at $7.25 an hour for now, but state and local laws are making that figure somewhat irrelevant for many employers. It's worth noting that several prominent businesses have taken it upon themselves to raise starting wages. Target and Amazon, for example, have both increased wages to recruit and keep more talent.
It's no surprise, then, that a couple states have minimum wage measures on their ballots, according to Ballotpedia.
- Arkansas Issue 5, Minimum Wage Increase Initiative
- Missouri Proposition B, $12 Minimum Wage Initiative
37 state and local minimum-wage increases take effect nationwide: As the federal government continues to roll back regulations on business, some say employers can expect more legislation at the state and local levels.
18 city and state minimum wage hikes kick in this month: Of those, 13 are within the $12.00 to $15.70 range — which could lead to job losses, the Employment Policies Institute argues.
Navigating mandatory minimum wage increases and historically low unemployment rates: HR should view minimum wage increases as an opportunity to evaluate hiring and compensation policies across their companies, writes Paycor CHRO Karen Crone.
Delaware passes minimum wage hikes: With Delaware and Massachusetts legislatures among the latest to pass minimum wage increases, more state and municipal pay hikes could be on the way.