How Changes from the New Secretary of Labor Could Affect HR

January 9, 2017 in HR Best Practices, News



Anytime the nation undergoes a transition of presidential power from one leader to the next, there are standard cabinet changes—particularly when a new party takes leadership—that almost unavoidably cause a shift in one or more policies.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s recent appointment of Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., as the new Secretary of Labor likely spells change for Human Resources. Mr. Puzder has consistently been “an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration,” according to the New York Times, so it seems like a guarantee that he will reassess and make changes that may directly affect HR departments around the country in a variety of fields.


Potential Changes for Human Resources with the New Secretary of Labor


Along with the standard tasks that await the new Secretary of Labor, which include analyzing issues with unions and the overall condition of the U.S. workplace, there are some hot button issues Mr. Puzder will face upon Senate confirmation and the beginning of his work for the Department of Labor.

Workers may worry about this appointment, given Puzder’s consistent pro-business and tough worker stance, notes The Atlantic. Mr. Trump’s selection of Mr. Puzder is fascinating, considering the president-elect’s focus on empowering the American blue-collar worker. It is possible that the future president is working to create a balance that will create and foster a healthy environment for both workers and employers, but the true answer to this query will only come with time and response to issues before Mr. Puzder.
There are a number of key issues that Mr. Puzder will attend to that may affect HR teams across the country. Below are just three of the possible changes from the new Secretary of Labor and how they could affect HR:

  1. The Affordable Care Act. Puzder opposes the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and strongly supports its repeal. Given his CEO position in the restaurant industry, Mr. Puzder posits that, due to the high cost of the government-mandated ACA, middle-class and lower middle-class workers have far smaller discretionary budget available for dining out. The possible repeal of the ACA, or any parts involved with it, could result in hefty changes for in HR departments, which may include creating a calendar of rule changes and fielding employees’ concerns.
  2. The Minimum Wage Debate. Heatedly debated and controversial, the minimum wage debate carries on among Americans. Mr. Puzder shares the view that the significant increase—from $7.50 to $15.00 in restaurant and other low-pay industries—is counter-productive and is likely to eventually cost employees their jobs, reports CNN Money. Mr. Puzder further notes that such an increase forces employers to find unpleasant alternative means of ensuring that they meet profits, and sometimes simply so they can stay in business. Either way, HR managers will need to deal with the fallout of the final decision, consoling either employers or employees, and ensuring continuing good will, in spite of the outcome.
  3. The New Overtime Rule. Originally set to have started on December 1, 2016, the new overtime rule is already in peril due to a federal court injunction, which halted that start date. The Atlantic notes that Mr. Puzder will probably not encourage the Department of Labor to pursue an appeal to the ruling since it would cost employers money. HR departments have worked hard the past year and a half to prepare for adoption of this rule, but it seems they will work to readjust employee expectations.

Help Your Employees Adjust to New and Nixed HR Rules and Regulations

At Kinsa Group, we have seen our share of politically-driven workplace rule and regulation changes since we started operations over 30 years ago. If you expect your talent needs to be affected by these looming changes, please reach out to our Recruiters to discuss your concerns and set up a timeline for any necessary new talent sourcing.