Posted from Heather’s column in the Knoxville News Sentinel from February 19, 2017
June 16, 2015 was a monumental day for a couple of reasons.
First, that is the day now-President Donald Trump threw his red trucker hat into the ring for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Second, Golden State won its first NBA championship in 40 years.
A couple weeks later, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies that provide tax breaks to qualifying persons.
Here we are, 614 days after June 16, 2015, and Trump has been the 45th President of the United States for just over a month. Unlike former U.S. Presidents who quickly forgot their campaign promises upon inauguration, President Trump seems set on making good on his promises.
Companies and workers are watching closely, and waiting to see what happens. Here are three potential changes:
1. Paid maternity leave and a tax deduction for childcare expenses
During his presidential campaign, Trump became the first Republican nominee to include paid maternity leave in his platform. Twenty-five percent of women return to work within two weeks after giving birth.
Workers who leave the workforce to care for an aging parent lose more than $300,000 in wages and retirement income. While the Family Medical Leave Act is 24 years old, many workers are not covered or cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Small employers may be alarmed at the prospect of paying employees who aren’t working, but Trump plans to fund the paid leave from the existing Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Although he never said he would “make parenting great again,” Trump proposed to allow parents to deduct from their taxes any child care expenses for kids under four, or money spent on taking care of an elderly parent. Currently, working parents may qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 for two or more children or dependents.
Before and after the election, Trump promised to repeal Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) immediately upon taking office. As of last week, the time frame for doing so had been delayed to the end of 2017. Regardless of when the repeal takes place, no one will recover the time and headaches companies endured (and attorney’s fees expended) in figuring out the ACA.
3. Overtime pay
The new federal overtime rule, which doubled the minimum salary required before a worker is exempt from overtime pay, remains in limbo. Although blocked from its December 1 implementation date by a Texas federal judge, its future is unclear. Trump’s first choice for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, announced opposition to the rule, but withdrew his candidacy last week. Businesses that granted raises in order to meet compliance have begun taking back the increases in salaries given to employees.
What holds true for now is that American employers and workers both face turmoil in light of the change in the White House and the President’s fast and furious approach to governing. As George Washington said to an irritated Alexander Hamilton in Cabinet Battle No. 1 in the play “Hamilton”: “Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder.”
Heather G. Anderson is an employment law attorney in Knoxville with Miller Anderson Law Group, PLLC. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @HRLawyerKnox.