While no one knows what the outcome of the presidential election will be, if Vice President Biden is elected, hospitality employers should expect to see the following labor and employment issues front and center:
- A call to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour. The last time the federal minimum wage increased was 2009. Of course, many states and municipalities already have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage. This is a discrete issue that is easy to understand and could become law without significant pushback. If the federal minimum wage is increased, it likely would be in incremental steps over several years.
- A push for mandatory paid time off. This is more controversial and likely will have strong opposition. As with the minimum wage, many states and municipalities already require some amount of paid time off. If COVID-19 is still dramatically impacting the workplace after the election, proposals to expand existing paid leave mandates (currently set to expire on December 31, 2020) will proliferate.
- An uptick in union organizing. National unions have had success at organizing particularly when workers’ safety is at issue. With millions of workers on the front line, union organization may appeal to those who feel (rightly or wrongly) that their employers put their safety at risk with COVID-19. Legislation passed the House of Representatives this year that would dramatically reshape labor relations law, but was not taken up by the Senate. If the composition of the Senate changes significantly, there could be pressure to revisit this bill.
- Continuation of the battle regarding the status of workers in the gig economy. The headlines are impossible to miss regarding whether or not ride share drivers, food delivery drivers, housekeepers from staffing agencies, and others in the gig economy are independent contractors or employees. Courts and agencies across the country have issued various (and conflicting) decisions. A new Administration would likely attempt to regulate in this space.
These are just a few of the possible labor and employment issues hospitality employers should expect to face if Vice President Biden is elected and/or congressional majorities change. If he is not elected, we expect that “blue” states and municipalities will push forward on minimum wage and paid time off legislation, notwithstanding lack of federal action. For a much more in-depth discussion, be on the lookout for Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute (WPI) election report coming out right after Election Day, as well as their webinar set for Friday, November 6, which will discuss the implications of the national elections on labor and employment policy.