President-elect Barack Obama has plans that could affect employers in many significant areas, including healthcare insurance, unions, Family and Medical Leave, and the minimum wage.
As he tries to implement his plans, however, he faces challenges on a few fronts. He must, for example, deal with issues that are leftover from previous administrations, including the financial crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq .
In addition, while he will hold significant majorities in both chambers of Congress, he may lack the votes to end a filibuster (it is still unknown whether he can reach the 60 votes needed in the Senate to end a filibuster), which could stall his initiatives.
Still, here are four areas to keep an eye on when Obama takes office in 2009.
Obama's healthcare plan would require employers to offer healthcare insurance to employees or pay a percentage of payroll to support a public healthcare plan. Small employers would be exempt. He would also give a tax credit to small businesses to encourage them to offer healthcare insurance.
All children would be required to have healthcare insurance and his plan calls for subsidies for people who are unable to afford insurance. He also has plan that he says will reduce healthcare costs, including a change to allow Americans to purchase less expensive prescription drugs form other countries.
Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act. This legislation would make it easier for unions to organize. The legislation would require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union if a majority of the relevant employees signs cards in support of the union. Under current rules, union elections must be done by secret ballot (unless the employer agrees to a card-check format).
Obama also supports legislation that would overrule NLRB decisions on the definition of a supervisor (supervisors are ineligible to join unions).
Obama wants to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover smaller employers, those with 25 or more employees. Under current rules, employers with 50 or more employees are covered. He also wants to allow workers to take leave for eldercare needs, give parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities, and cover leave for employees to address domestic violence.
He would also encourage states to adopt paid leave laws by starting a fund that could be tapped to offset costs.
Barack Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation. This would mean that the minimum wage would increase every year in which consumer prices rise.