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NCA’s Washington Weekly Update 5-10-21

Situational Awareness
The House and Senate are in session this week after a brief recess. The House will consider legislation that adds workplace protections for pregnant women requesting accommodations, debt collection, and mental health measures aimed at suicide prevention and mental health in underserved communities. The Senate consider nominations for deputy secretary of Health and Human Services and deputy secretary of Education.

Democrats Add to House Majority
The special election in Louisiana to fill the seat of former-Representative Cedric Richmond resulted in the election of Representative-elect Troy Carter. Carter will be sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, which will increase the Democrats’ slim majority to 219 – 212.

House Aims to Bolster Protections for Pregnant
This week the House will consider H.R. 1065, the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” which would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and job applicants. Employers with more than 15 employees would be subject to the legislation’s requirements. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliation and requiring a pregnant worker to accept an accommodation with which they don’t agree. Employers would also be prohibited from denying employment opportunities based on the need for reasonable accommodations. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to pass the House. At this time it is unclear whether the Senate will act on the legislation.

Independent Contractor Rule Rescinded
Last week, the Department of Labor announced a final rule that rescinds the Trump Administration’s independent contractor rule, which would have streamlined the criteria for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Rather than the new criteria going into effect, the process reverts back to the seven-part test effective since 2008. The seven-part test is below:

  • The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal’s business.
  • The permanency of the relationship.
  • The amount of the alleged contractor’s investment in facilities and equipment.
  • The nature and degree of control by the principal.
  • The alleged contractor’s opportunities for profit and loss.
  • The amount of initiative, judgment, or foresight in open market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent contractor.
  • The degree of independent business organization and operation.

Vaccine Makers Seek Full Approval
COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are requesting full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for their products, which have so far been distributed under an emergency use authorization. The absence of full approval of the vaccines has complicated employer efforts to require employees to be vaccinated in order to remain on the job. While employers are able to require vaccination, the emergency use status of the drugs led to some hesitancy.

Worker Shortage Leads States to Act
In response to employers’ concerns about a shortage of workers seeking to reenter the workforce, several states are planning on ending federal unemployment payments of $300 per week earlier than the expiration date contained in the statute. Arkansas, Montana and South Carolina will seek to end the payments, while other states like Arizona and Florida are planning on reinstating work-search requirements as a condition of aid. There has been a growing debate in Washington about the need for the additional payments and whether they create an incentive for individuals to remain unemployed rather than return to work. Democrats and progressives argue that there are other factors at play in deciding whether to return to the workplace such as childcare and worries about potential exposure to the virus.

Attend the National Club Conference Virtual Experience
Even though we have reached capacity for the 2021 National Club Conference, you can still attend the industry’s most exciting Conference. For the first time, NCA is adding a National Club Conference Virtual Experience to allow attendees to remotely access our lineup of world-class speakers, connect and network with live and remote attendees, and discover new products and services from our sponsors and exhibitors. Register here. See the virtual schedule here.