Published on: Dec 15, 2016

The President Elect and His Impact on the Workplace

With the 2016 presidential election in the rearview, human resources professionals across the country await the implications of Donald Trump’s election. What policies will result from his strident and oftentimes controversial campaign? How will the landscape change for HR departments?

One of the biggest challenges facing HR is the potential rollback or repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a charge broached in many Trump campaign appearances. According to a survey of human resources executives conducted by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., 67 percent of respondents believe the Trump administration will make significant changes to the ACA, while 28 percent believe it will be eliminated completely. Only 5 percent believe the law will remain untouched due to popular demand.

The survey was conducted in December among a small sampling of HR executives representing companies of varying sizes and industries across the United States.

Until a November meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the transition of power, Trump insisted the ACA would be repealed completely, a policy idea still touted on his website. However, in recent interviews, he has pulled back from his strong language on repealing the law, opting instead to fix certain aspects or replace large swaths of the legislation.

Of human resources executives who reported that they believe significant changes will occur, 39 percent foresee the elimination of the Cadillac tax and the employer-sponsored and individual mandates. Furthermore, 17 percent stated some parts will be kept and some repealed, but did not specify which aspects.

In fact, Republicans are currently pushing a bill that would repeal some aspects of the law, including states’ Medicaid expansion safety nets and funding that provides subsidies to middle-income Americans to offset the cost of insurance premiums, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trump also recently nominated outspoken critic of the ACA and American Medical Association-endorsed Dr. Tom Price (R-Georgia) to head the Department of Health & Human Services.

The media coverage has not caused HR departments to change their own policies at the moment, however. Almost 80 percent are not planning for a repeal of the ACA, with 61 percent reporting they will keep aspects of their policies that were enacted for the law.

Of the requirements HR will keep, 60 percent noted they will cover children until age 26 and 100 percent said they will keep coverage for pre-existing conditions. Additionally, 13 percent will create completely new policies upon elimination of the law.

This is not to say HR executives do not have some questions. According to the Challenger survey, 43 percent chose as their biggest concern whether or not mandatory reporting to the IRS will continue through the calendar year or cease immediately with the repeal of the law. Another 21 percent questioned the fate of current documentation related to summaries of benefits and coverage.

The elimination or significant alteration of the ACA is not Trump’s only potential impact to the workplace, of course. The president-elect has been an outspoken critic on regulation and will likely impede progress on any laws that would inflict the same.

Will we see the end of the overtime exemption?

For instance, the DOL overtime exemption change that was recently blocked by a federal judge will likely not receive any support from the new administration and could possibly be eliminated if Trump gets the chance. Additionally, Trump has not indicated whether wages, health, or family leave are priorities for his administration.

Due to his campaign message on immigration and his choice of Jeff Sessions for attorney general, a critic of H-1B visas, it remains to be seen whether programs for foreign workers will see a significant overhaul. His recent Twitter spat with the union leader who represented many of the Carrier Corporation jobs that were offshored may portend his future relations with unions.

Regardless of which policies the new administration ultimately enacts, human resources professionals will be on the front lines of implementation. They will need all the information possible to create effective and meaningful policies for their companies as well as to communicate these changes to their workforce.

Learn more about Challenger.