Time & Attendance
By Monica Ginsburg
Aug. 6, 2009
President Barack Obama has been in office for only seven months, but already his administration has ushered in a slew of rules and regulations that affect the way employers deal with their employees—from a new law that makes it easier for people to pursue pay discrimination cases to a broader reading of who’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
More change is on the way—a lot more.
In fact, even before Election Day last year, Chicago labor law firm Franczek Radelet began tracking then-candidate Obama’s speeches and platform positions and tallied more than 30 workplace-related initiatives he likely would push if he won.
Now Franczek Radelet, like employment lawyers and human resources executives all over the country, is scrambling to adjust to the new rules emanating from Washington.
“It’s a paradigm shift from what we saw in the Bush administration,” partner David Radelet says. “There’s a new team in place and a new political agenda. It really is staggering what might be coming.”
Among the changes that already have come down or might be approved:
As a small-business owner, you might not have a staff of HR managers and labor lawyers to guide you in this new and changing landscape. Crain’s Chicago Business (a sister publication of Workforce Management) has combed through the proposed and newly minted laws and has asked experts to predict what’s coming next.
Phyllis Apelbaum, founder of Arrow Messenger Services, is especially concerned about the card-check measure as she battles to keep her Chicago-based messenger and delivery service afloat in a sour economy.
Apelbaum says Arrow’s business has declined 25 percent since September and, since January, she has been forced cut her staff to 150 employees from 235.
Apelbaum wonders how the card-check bill would affect small businesses like Arrow that historically have been off-limits to unions.
“If the unions win, I can’t pay our employees any more than I’m paying them now,” she says. “In the end, I’ll be forced to close down. How does anybody win in that situation?”
So what should small-business owners expect as the new rules flow from Washington? Expanded employee rights, more government oversight, increased union influence and more vigorous enforcement of new and existing laws, observers say. And that could mean increased costs for wages, record keeping, employee training and, if you make a wrong move, legal fees.
The bottom line: Be prepared.
“The more regulated employee relations become, the more vulnerable small businesses are if they don’t have support in place,” says Amy Kohn, an employment law consultant at Lincolnshire, Illinois-based human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates.
Some tips for navigating a new legal landscape:
“Human resources is a management function that every business, regardless of size, should invest in,” says Frank Saibert, chairman of the labor and employment law practice at Ungaretti & Harris in Chicago. “You need to have controls in place. It’s part of today’s environment.”
“Even if they’re not acting in the way we would like, our government representatives need to hear from us and understand how legislation affects our industry,” Mottl says. “We’ll keep fighting for what we need, and they need to know that.”
“It’s not the time to take on extra expenses,” he says. “We need to do more with what we have here now.”
Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.
ComplianceMinimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know
Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1. Thr...
federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance
LegalNew Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023
The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...
labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law
LegalWage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know
Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...
compliance, wage and hour law