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Labor laws changing under Trump

Whether you think the impact of the Trump administration has been good or bad, what we can't deny is that it's a very different administration when it comes to labor laws and business regulations.

As a business owner, it's important to keep up with all of these changes. Here are some of the key revisions to various rules and regulations put in place by the new administration.

  • The joint employer rule is no more. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Labor had issued guidance to clarify how employees of franchises and independent contractors could be treated and classified. The rule (which was also being challenged in court) was designed to make sure companies weren't classifying employees in certain ways to avoid certain workplace regulations.
  • Some Obama-era rules that were being challenged in court are also not being defended by the administration, with officials indicating they will reopen them for comment. The "persuader rule" would have required labor lawyers to acknowledge whenever they were hired by businesses to discuss union issues. Previously that only had to be divulged when lawyers spoke directly with workers. That rule had been struck down by a Texas court in April.
  • The expanded overtime rule -- which would have raised to $47,000 the exemption for overtime coverage -- was also struck down by a Texas court last fall. So far, the administration has also opted not to defend the rule and administration officials have told Congress they plan to open the rule up for comment again with an eye toward setting a lower threshold.
  • The "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act" barred companies from receiving federal contracts if they had a history of violating wage or safety regulations. Opponents said it resulted in companies being "blacklisted" by competitors. It was rescinded in May.
  • The administration has also made changes and said it is considering several other OSHA rules for modification or cancellation, ranging from enforcement to publication of violations.
  • Another item to keep an eye on: The National Labor Relations Board currently only has three of its five seats filled. President Trump gets to fill those two vacancies subject to Senate approval, which could have a big impact on labor law going forward. Board members are appointed to five-year terms, so that impact will last beyond the next presidential election.

Jonathan Sweet is the director of the Boating Industry Top 100 program.

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