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Summer is over. Kids are back at school, employees are back on the job, and Members of Congress are back in Washington after their month-long August break. What's on lawmakers' "to do" list this fall?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) this week outlined an ambitious legislative agenda, including the need to approve 12 "spending" bills by October 1 to keep federal agencies in business. In addition, the Congress could consider a variety of pending bills that would greatly impact the day-to-day activities of HR professionals.

The House is likely to debate the following legislation:

  • The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA), which would create several new requirements for employers related to their accommodation of employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • The Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradesworkers (RESPECT) Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to clarify the definition of "supervisor."

Representative George Miller's (D-CA) bill, entitled the "401(k) Fair Disclosure for Retirement Security Act of 2007," mandating new 401(k) fee disclosures is expected to be considered on the House floor.

In the Senate, look for a vote on the bill to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's pay discrimination decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., by changing the current statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims that can be brought by employees.

Other congressional action (in the House and/or Senate) could include debates and/or votes on:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act, a bill to expand the eligibility criteria for coverage under the ADA.

  • Mental health parity legislation that would require group health plans that include mental health coverage to treat mental illnesses and physical illnesses the same, in terms of deductibles, hospital stays, and co-payments.

  • Efforts to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including mandatory paid leave proposals and leave for caregivers in military families.

During the coming months, Congress is likely to take actions that will significantly impact the role and responsibilities of HR professionals in the workplace. SHRM's Government Affairs team will keep you informed of what's happening and the role you can play in advancing the interests of the profession on Capitol Hill.


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