As both Wall Street and “Main Street” continue to focus on the timeline for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the transition to a new presidential administration, we are reminded that change is the only constant in life. These developments are likely to usher in significant legal and regulatory changes for which employers should begin preparing:
- The enhanced federal unemployment benefits under the CARES Act and the paid leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020. However, it is anticipated that the incoming administration will seek to extend some of these protections and approve additional stimulus relief.
- Employees may desire to continue telecommuting, even after COVID-19 infections begin to abate. This will be tricky for employers – especially those that have historically prohibited telecommuting but allowed it during the pandemic. Employers should review their telecommuting policies and carefully address “work from home” requests on a case-by-case basis to avoid running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws.
- Michigan’s Civil Rights Commission has become increasingly active in investigating employee complaints of unfair treatment. Under the incoming administration, the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission may likewise become more aggressive in investigating and enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. Additionally, employers should be aware that legal protections afforded to individuals on the basis of sexuality and transgender status are also likely to be strengthened.
- The new administration, through the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), is expected to institute significant labor law changes, including a return to the NLRB’s Obama-era view of the “joint-employer” test, thereby making it easier for employees to assert their right to bargain with both their direct employer and the company contracting for their services.
Although much remains uncertain, proactive planning and effective counsel can help employers navigate the waters of legal and regulatory change. If we can help, contact us at (248) 477-6300.