As expected, President Trump is steadily unwinding some of the more onerous actions of the prior administration. For example, the President signed legislation eliminating OSHA’s rule “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness.” This rule effectively created a five year statute of limitations for an employer’s reporting duty. OSHA finalized this rule last December and it became effective in January 2017. OSHA passed this rule in response to a 2012 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which held that OSHA could not issue citations to employers for failing to record an injury or illness beyond the six-month statute of limitations set out in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The repeal of this regulation will substantially ease the record-keeping burden on concrete contractors.
Although President Trump’s revised travel ban is now the subject of a preliminary injunction, other aspects of his renewed focus on immigration are thriving. For example, his budget proposal anticipates hiring as many as 10,000 new immigration and border patrol agents. It is anticipated that those agents will not all be deployed at the border, but will assume substantial interior enforcement duties. This will undoubtedly result in more I-9 inspections in the near future. Some estimate that the number of worksite inspections will triple within a year or two. This suggests that concrete contractors need to be especially diligent about I-9 compliance in their hiring process.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act survived initial efforts to repeal it. Despite what some critics are claiming, repeal efforts are not dead. House Speaker Paul Ryan is cautiously optimistic about the prospects for replacing Obama care. It is important to realize that it took nearly 18 months to enact the ACA, so it is hardly surprising that it could be replaced in less than 60 days. It is clear that the Trump administration does not intend to penalize employers or individuals for failing to comply with ACA mandates. Concrete contractors should stay tuned for future developments.
For federal contractors the “blacklisting” Executive Order has been repealed. This order required contractors bidding on federal work to disclose all prior violations of labor and employment laws as part of the bidding process. In theory, the federal agents controlling the bids were to deny contracts to contractors guilty of prior federal and state law violations. Now, contractors do not have to disclose prior violations and they will not lose bids because of mere allegations of violations.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has indicated that it is likely that federal law enforcement may be more strict about enforcement of marijuana laws. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for a federal review of marijuana enforcement policy. Neither Sessions nor President Trump favors recreational use of marijuana. At present, it is unclear how federal law enforcement will address this issue in the future, and it is possible that the Trump administration will conclude that recreational use of marijuana is a state level issue.
There are a number of issues that concrete contractors should be attuned to at the state and local level. These include more widespread increases in minimum wage requirements as it becomes more clear that there is unlikely to be a federally mandated increase. Similarly, states may increase the minimum salary for overtime exemption. Other future issues include regulation of paid time off, “ban the box,” pay equity for females, LGBTQ protections, and more pro-marijuana legislation.
Contractors, stay tuned.