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Washington Wrap

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As employers are getting ready to close the books for 2011 and focus on the New Year, the Obama Administration remains busy crafting a series of workplace regulations that HR professionals and their employers are certain to grapple with in 2012. 
Throughout 2011, several regulations that would ease workplace unionization were initiated, including a Department of Labor proposal changing reporting requirements for employers using outside advisors, known as the “persuader” rules, and requirements to post a notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Today, Dec. 22, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its final rule on expedited union elections. The final expedited election rule does not vary much from the proposal that SHRM and other groups opposed earlier this year and will significantly shorten the timeframe between certification of a union election and the election itself. Legal challenges to this rule are already underway with SHRM considering various options to contest the rule.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has also had a busy year, proposing to overhaul federal contractor anti-discrimination and affirmative action requirements for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities as well as proposing changes to data collection on compensation. OFCCP’s proposed changes to recruitment and hiring requirements for disabled individuals would set a goal requiring that at least 7 percent of a federal contractor’s workforce be comprised of employees with disabilities. SHRM strongly supports and encourages employers to hire individuals with disabilities, but has concerns with certain requirements of the rule.  This includes possible conflicts with existing employer requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and the significant paperwork burden that will result from a new annual reporting requirement. SHRM will submit comments to the agency by the February 7, 2012, comment deadline.

As we ring in the New Year, we’ll be ready and watching for additional action in these areas as well as compensation equity and employer use of criminal and credit background checks in the employment process.

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