I’ve been away from the blog so long that my own page didn’t even recognize me. It’s been a while, eh? I’ve been staying on top of homework and work and all my NASHRM/ALSHRM activities and leaving little time for the bloggymcblogblog here, however it is time for a legislative update for the world of HR. To be 100% clear, this post is not a direct reflection of SHRMs stance on any legislation. This is a summary of a trip that I was recently a part of and it is peppered with sarcasm and opinions from the group I was with.
On September 11th, 2014 ALSHRM Legislative Directors assembled to storm the Hill on topics that SHRM has highlighted as relevant to our profession. I’ve told y’all before this trip is awesome. Seeing your Representatives in DC is vastly different from seeing them in your hometown turf. DC just feels powerful, ya know? It is also a lot of fun for a misplaced city girl such as myself, but I digress. So what did SHRM deem important for this trip? Hang on to your seats folks, because for the first time in about five or six trips it was NOT E-Verify! Color this girl happy, because if I had to argue some ridiculous points about I-9 vs. E-Verify, etc. one more time my eyes were going to pop out of my head and roll across Capitol Hill. Okay, I’ve drawn this out long enough, we mostly chatted with our Congressmen/women and Senators about FLSA.
1st point: Obama’s EO for Federal Contractors with labor violations. This sounds like a silly topic because the EO has already been signed, but the actual regulations and guidance have not yet been finalized. This is a perfect example of why we, ALSHRM, take our Legislative Directors from local chapters across the state to meet with our Representatives on the Hill-to take an opportunity and voice our concerns of the impact of potential decisions. How can they (our Representatives) possibly know what will and will not have a positive impact on our organizations if we do not take the time to tell them? (Kind of, sort of something like you cannot always know what your employees want in your organization if they don’t tell you?) The most valuable time we (HR) have is between now and when they finalize regulations and guidance for this EO (so speak up if you haven’t already). The other end of this same issue is Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has offered an amendment to multiple House Appropriations bills that would debar federal contractors for one FLSA violation in the past five years. One violation? No contract for five years. Here in Huntsville, AL we happen to have a LOT of contractors, that only do contract work. It could drastically change our local economy and our global presence. Not to mention the fact that the last time I looked at the FLSA my eyes went sideways and I started foaming at the mouth. That was a terrible exaggeration, but I’m just trying to get your attention. Oh and remember it was created in 1938? Yes, it’s been amended, but it’s a mostly dated document that reads in such a manner that even the DOL has had a FLSA violation (or so I hear). Back to Ellison, the funny thing about his tactics is that our group discovered he had snuck some of these appropriations in on voice votes when basically no one was around to object (the one I can remember is the energy bill it was successfully attached to). This is the kind of shady business that should not be going on, but it happens. Where is their HR department? just kidding…
Point 2: We took the time to voice concerns about the impact of raising the pay for exempt employees. Not in the manner of the number should not be raised, but what it could look like for organizations and employees if it were raised too high. One can suspect that there is an effort of wage inflation behind this task order, but only time will tell. As an HR person I think we should pay our people fairly, even our HR people, but I think that lawmakers are overlooking an important piece to this puzzle: bottom-line. Companies will not automatically increase exempt level employees pay scale so that they can stay classified as an exempt employee. Especially if they do not have the money to do so. Some companies will have to take exempt level employees and re-classify them as non-exempt. This step will, in most cases, take away that employees flexibility. We will simply be paying employees for hours worked and not necessarily the work they do. So if I go in to work around 1pm today because it is my daughter’s birthday and I wanted to have lunch at school with her, but I’m now non-exempt instead of exempt, I may not have the opportunity to make up the hours I missed before the end of the pay period. This is a sticky situation because it depends on your industry and how you treat your employees and all kinds of other factors. I think, at the risk of sounding overly conservative, the free market kind of works, right? Companies that take care of their employees (pay them well, good benefits, non-hostile work environment, etc.) attract a lot of candidates while companies who do not offer such luxuries do not attract as many candidates.
All of this to say, no matter what your opinion is if you do not speak up, no one will know. The wonderful thing about us going as a group representing each district from the state is the power in numbers. We do not represent one organizations interest, we represent the integrity of the Human Resources profession collectively and come from a variety of businesses. I also want to remind you that it is important to meet with your Representatives in your home district, but meeting with them in DC is well worth it too. You can keep up with all of this information yourself if you’d like (I strongly encourage you do so): http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
Questions? Negative opinions? I’d be happy to entertain them, hit me in the comments below!