What the Biden inauguration means for HR leaders

When Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States around noon Wednesday, senior HR executives might not be watching.

Not because they aren’t interested in the history-making moment, but because they’re busy with projects to react and respond to Biden’s earliest moves as president, including ensuring that work continues on vaccination policies for their workplaces.

Experts know that the uncertainty and tumult of 2020 will not evaporate with the new president’s inauguration, especially after the disruption since the U.S. Capitol was stormed on Jan. 6. Unpredictability will continue this year, but they expect it will abate somewhat.

Among Biden’s earliest expected moves are efforts to pass a proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, overturning the so-called “Muslim ban” on travel and changes to immigration policies. More HR-focused are healthcare proposals, approval of a union-friendly Department of Labor leader, proposals to increase the federal minimum wage and changes to paid leave laws.

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Also expected to affect HR departments across the country is a move to roll back President Trump’s executive order restricting federal agencies and government contractors from offering diversity training programs.

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That one is “absolutely huge,” Bob Greene, senior HR industry analyst at Ascentis, said late last year. “I would imagine that before the sun sets on Jan. 20 it will have been reversed.”

Training managers likely breathed a sigh of relief about the order with Biden’s election in November, Greene said. Though a federal judge’s decision in late December to block Trump’s order likely removed this from the list of Day One priorities for Biden.

Here are some other expected moves and decisions sure to affect HR leaders in the coming days and months:

  • Biden has announced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will be his pick to lead the Department of Labor. If confirmed, the longtime union member intends to work hard for working people, labor unions and “those fighting every day for their shot at the middle class.” Read more here.
  • More employee-friendly policies are expected, especially with the Georgia Senate election results cementing Democrats’ control of Washington. Read more here.
  • Healthcare, vaccination rollouts, employee wellbeing and other COVID-related concerns will be key. Read more here.

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