A divided Congress: What's the impact on employment law?

PositionPolitics & HR

Two years of all-Republican control of Washington ended last month with Democrats seizing control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. That gives Democrats the ability to set the agenda for legislation, including employment law issues.

While a divided Congress should reduce the chances for big legislative action, it's sure to mean one important thing for HR: more regulatory activity.

"Look for new--and potentially more aggressive--actions by the Trump administration on workplace issues like immigration, health care reform and harassment," said attorney Joseph Beachboard, managing director of the Ogletree Deakins law firm. "We could also see changes in several wage-and-hour and leave arenas. Plus, you can expect state legislatures to get more active on all these issues if gridlock continues in Congress."

Heading into 2019, here are some key employment law issues to watch:

No immigration reform, more audits. A Democratic House will likely try to pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform, but that'll face tough sledding in the Republican-controlled Senate. Instead, expect the Trump administration to double down on efforts to make employers less of a "magnet" for undocumented workers. In fact, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already conducted nearly five times as many workplace audits in 2018 as it did last year.

Will new overtime rules really happen? The Department of Labor plans to propose next spring an increase in the salary threshold for paying overtime to white-collar workers (see page 1)...

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