Quick recap – 2014 SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference

Last week was a whirlwind of Human Resources productivity. I attended my first national SHRM event in Washington DC and met some amazing HR professionals from all over the country. I wanted to share a super quick recap on the conference with you. We had an incredible list of guest speakers:

1) Michael Aitken, VP of Government Affairs for national SHRM and one of new favorite people

2) Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson from Crossfire took center stage during a lunch session, sharing their outlook on politics affecting the current political space and the upcoming 2014 elections

3) Jeffrey Toobin kicked off our 3rd day of HR antics with his behind the scenes view of the Supreme Court Justices

4) Carly Fiorina, who shared some amazing pearls of wisdom with us as business professionals (I’ll share those at the end) and to close the whole sha-bang…

5) The current Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez. It was extremely interesting to hear his take on what the DOL and the federal government would be doing to stimulate the job market and help the long-term unemployed gain access to jobs. I had to restrain myself from running up to him waving my #dataexcitesme sticker in his face and asking him to take a picture with me for the @BrightScope twitter account. I guess it’s no secret, I have a thing for one of most interesting BrightScope clients, the Department of Labor.

My biggest takeaway from the conference was to witness the ferocity in which SHRM participates in advocating for issues that are important to HR professionals, employees and employers. It was incredible and thrilling to be in a room with over 500 HR professionals that were all championing for the same desires: consistency, transparency and efficiency in the hiring process as it relates to attracting, recruiting and retaining world class talent, bring clarity to politicians on the affects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on employers (especially small to mid-size businesses) and how misinformed and misguided tax reform ideas will negatively impact the little guy – your small businesses, new college grads entering the workforce and those that are planning ahead for retirement.

There were 3 upcoming bills/proposed reform issues that SHRM asked our group to lobby for when we met with our state representatives and senators. They were:

1) HR 2575 Save American Workers Act – this bill would amend the IRC of 1986 to repeal the 30 hour threshold for classification as full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the PPACA and replace it with the original 40 hour as full-time employee classification. SHRM’s position was to support the repeal and mandate that 40 hours is considered full-time, mirroring FLSA classifications, and changing what was proposed in the PPACA. From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to have different wage and hour classifications in play. Duh, politicians!
2) S 744 – Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – this bill would provide comprehensive immigration reform and would include a host of updates to the E-Verify system that would decrease the risk of work authorization and documentation fraud. It also proposed that all work authorization filings be moved to electronic submission only, which would streamline the process for employers seeking to sponsor employees for work authorization. This bill also requests an increase in the number of green cards and H1Bs offered every year. SHRM’s position is to support this bill as it would allow for more access to world class talent, especially in the STEM fields/industry. Practical application: Increasing the ease in filing work authorizations/sponsorships and green cards/H1Bs would decrease the amount of international students that come to the US for advanced education (Masters degrees and/or PhD’s) and then take their knowledge back to their country of origin where they will ultimately start businesses that are in direct competition with the US.
3) David Camp’s Comprehensive Tax Reform – this bill would overhaul the current tax system. There is a lot to review so I would suggest reviewing it at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/taxreform/. SHRM’s position on this bill is that it would take away a crucial component of the comprehensive benefits packages we offer to employees – tax deferred benefits (SHRM does not support this facet of the reform). Camp’s reform bill would remove pre-tax contributions to retirement savings and college savings plans. Practical application: The current job market is extremely competitive for employers looking to attract and retain top talent and offering tax deferred retirement savings plans can be a strong bargaining chip during the recruitment process. This also will hit the millenials hard as they come out of undergrad or grad school with student loans. They will want to save for their future and the best way to do that when they have a low starting salary would be a tax-deferred retirement savings fund.

I attended breakout sessions that I thought would be most relevant to SD SHRM and my company so please let me know if you want additional information on the following:

a) Supreme Court Speaks – Examination of the key employment law decisions from the last few terms
b) CA – It Could Happen to You – Examination of Ca wage, hour and leave of absence requirements and trends
c) Immigration, It’s Complicated – This session discussed the challenges employers will face in 2014 in hiring foreign nationals, recent developments and trends at the immigration agencies and the landscape of immigration reform on Capitol Hill.
d) Preventing Retaliation Claims
e) EEOC Update
f)How the ACA Impacts Your Wellness Strategy – this is a must-review for those of you running wellness programs at your organizations

The CalSHRM/SD SHRM representative (shout out to the awesome Michael Kalt) and I enjoyed meeting our California SHRM counterparts for a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill. We had a great conversations with senior staff members for Scott Peters, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein, which I am confident will progress positively during the CA State Legislative & HR Conference in April.

Carly Fiorina blew me away with the stories, trials and tribulations she shared with our group. I had to frantically take notes on my iPhone to make sure that I captured her words accurately.
Fiorina’s Pearls…..
“The essence of leadership is to unlock potential in others.”
“The goal is not perfection; the goal is progression.”
Take it in…. let is absorb for a few days, then apply to everything you do in your role an an Human Resources leader in your organization.


CA SHRM groupCA SHRM group

One thought on “Quick recap – 2014 SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference

  1. Pingback: How To Determine Your Worth | Carear Work News

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