Fasten Your Seatbelts: A Summary of Biden’s First Five Days

Scene from the Biden White House: Anyone: “Hey, what time is it?” Everyone: “Go time!”

The first five days of the new administration has produced many changes already, largely through a dizzying array of Executive Orders. Of course, Trump had signed 400 orders so there is a lot to undo for Biden. But many of the new orders go beyond just canceling prior action.  Here is a rundown of the employment-related actions from Week 1:

  • Federal Mask Non-Mandate: “On-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks,” which is not a n actual mandate but a strong suggestion.
  • Stronger LGBT Protections: A day one Executive Order: “the federal government will enforce federal law to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, health care, housing, and education, and other key areas of life.”
  • NLRB General Counsel Fired: Biden asked employer friendly Peter Robb for his resignation. When it did not come, he was fired. Republican appointees still control the NLRB but that is not expected to last.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has two weeks to issue revised guidance on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the endgame? Biden wants OSHA to use more muscle than guidance and invoke emergency standards when needed to go after violators aggressively.
  • OSHA gets labor friendly deputy from the United Steel Workers to become more employee friendly.
  • Refusal to Work: Biden is asking the DOL to clarify that federal workers have a “federally guaranteed right” to refuse work “that would jeopardize their health” and can then collect unemployment. To quote Biden himself from the past, that would be a BFD should the DOL release such guidance.
  • Minimum Wage and Paid Emergency Leave: An order to, within 100 days, allow the administration to require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave to workers. No surprise on the wages but the paid emergency leave details have not been fleshed out.
  • Pause pending and proposed regulations for federal agencies for 60 days, to allow review by new agency heads, per a memo from the Chief of Staff.

Oh and also a $1.9 trillion stimulus, which includes  FFCRA leave expanded to all employers; COVID19 orders to speed up vaccination and whatever else happened while typing this.

We are on high alert for changes and will keep you posted. Questions? We can help.