To many in the US, it's a welcome end to the week that saw the close of one of the most controversial, divisive elections in the nation's history.
But where does the aftermath leave the HR profession? The short answer is that there's a lot of uncertainty. On Wednesday, in our election follow-up piece, we launched a survey asking readers about their reaction to the results. First question: Were readers optimistic about the potential impact a Trump administration would have on the HR industry?
As of the survey's close at 12 AM this morning, the results showed a majority (over 60%) of respondents, regardless of the candidate they supported, said they were not optimistic. About 94% of that contingent supported candidates other than Donald Trump.
Given this atmosphere of anticipation, we asked industry observers for their reaction. What should HR departments across the country expect in the way of policy debates and compliance? What legislative and executive developments will the first 100 days produce?
Top of Mind: The Affordable Care Act
Trump has called for substantial changes to the ACA, and he made sure to rally supporters around his call to "repeal and replace Obamacare." It's a contentious stance being taken on an issue that 47% of HR Dive survey respondents ranked as their top policy concern, the highest percentage for any issue.
Congressional Republicans, who retained their majorities in both houses after Tuesday night, have already constructed a set of proposals to amend existing laws, says J.D. Piro, Senior Vice President of Aon Hewitt's Health Law Group.
The delegation's 37-page outline proposes a repeal of the individual and employer mandates, the expansion of HSAs and the repeal of the Cadillac Tax.
"We can expect the ACA will be significantly revised, if not completely overhauled," said Piro, who also stated that the new administration might address health care issues beyond the ACA, including contraceptive regulations for religious organizations and Medicare prescription drug prices.
Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), congratulated Trump on his victory, saying "we look forward to working with him and the new Congress on eliminating the ACA excise tax and strengthening employer-sponsored health coverage for the millions of Americans who rely on it."
Employee concern about the future state of healthcare plans and benefits should be offset by clear communication, says Tami Simon, Managing Director of Xerox HR Services' Knowledge Resource Center. Simon said employers may consider taking steps to address any possibility of limiting plan coverage of dependents, including children over 20, in addition to the imposition of new annual or lifetime limits.
States Could be Key to Wage Increases
Changes to minimum wage laws appeared on several state ballots earlier this week, including approved increases in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington state.
Neil Shastri, Leader of Global Insights and Innovation at Aon Hewitt, believes Trump could also take action at the federal level, though the new president-elect will likely continue deferring the issue to state governments.
"He also toyed with the idea of a ten-dollar minimum wage," Shastri said. "If the federal minimum wage continues unchanged we are likely to see some liberal-leaning states like California continue to push for this while other states such as Georgia, Texas and Virginia keep it at the federal minimum."
What About FLSA?
At the end of November, most HR observers believe the Obama administration's changes to FLSA overtime rules will proceed as planned, considerably raising the salary threshold for overtime exemption. But there's a strong possibility that Trump, who had spoken out against the rule in August, could force the derailment for which several groups have advocated.
Shastri said that though the president-elect has previously opposed the changes, he may not take immediate action to revert them.
Another thing for HR leaders to consider, regardless of the issue, is that legislation from Congress on given issues will have the potential for far more impact on labor law given GOP gains, says Simon. Senate Democrats will certainly try to obstruct certain pieces of legislation, but there's another side to the story.
"We are likely to see Republicans in a strong position to advance their agenda – some of which is set forth in the House GOP policy report dubbed A Better Way," according to Simon. "One caveat is that all the Republicans in Congress do not subscribe to the same viewpoint. Thus, to the extent there is some congressional dysfunction, it may be less about Democrats vs. Republicans and more about the divide among Republicans."