Election 2020: The US Presidential Candidates on Key HR Issues

October 27, 2020 5 Minute Read

With Election Day right around the corner in the US, we decided to break down the platforms of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to investigate how their policies might impact the workplace. Their platforms on topics such as minimum wage, healthcare, paid leave and more have the power to directly influence the decisions you must make as HR leaders. We hope this overview will help you prepare and monitor for potential updates to employment regulations. 

Minimum Wage

President Donald Trump

During the final 2020 presidential debate on Oct. 22, Trump said he believes the minimum wage should be determined at the state level, arguing that a federal increase to $15 per hour would hurt small businesses.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

He supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Biden’s platform calls for an end to the tipped minimum wage, as well as the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. Biden’s website also discusses overtime pay and says he “will ensure workers are paid fairly for the long hours they work and get the overtime they have earned.”

Paid Leave

President Donald Trump

Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget plan includes a proposal to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents, including adoptive parents. His previous budgets have included similar proposals, with the paid leave being provided through state unemployment insurance systems.

During his 2020 State of the Union Address, Trump called on legislators to pass the Advancing Support for Working Families Act, which would allow parents to take an advance of up to $5,000 of their future Child Tax Credit. While it doesn’t provide job-protected leave, sponsors of the bill suggest that families can use this as an option to fund leave. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden supports the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), which would provide all workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for newborns, newly adopted or fostered children, and family members with serious illnesses. All workers, including part-time workers, independent contractors and more, would qualify. The plan would ensure paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Biden also calls for seven days of paid sick leave and says he will “work to ensure more workers have fair, predictable schedules and flexible schedules when they need it.”

Unemployment Insurance

President Donald Trump

Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget plan includes a proposal to simplify short-time compensation (STC), or work sharing, programs that allow businesses to keep workers employed at reduced hours by subsidizing wages. The proposal addresses some of the barriers that limit adoption of these programs by allowing employers greater flexibility in the cuts they can make to work hours and employee retirement contributions.

The budget also proposes providing states with new tools and resources to tackle unemployment insurance fraud and offsetting overlap of unemployment and disability insurance benefits. Under the latter proposal, an individual who receives both benefits will see their disability payments reduced by the amount of unemployment benefits they receive during the same period. This may prompt some to relinquish unemployment payments if they receive more in disability insurance.  

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden intends to implement a federally funded Employment Insurance, which would scale up STC programs. Twenty-seven states currently have these programs in place, but Biden plans to incentivize greater use by establishing 100% federal funding and creating a tax credit to reimburse employers for the costs of continued health benefits. Enhancements to the programs would be automatically triggered by certain economic and public health conditions.

Workplace Equity

President Donald Trump

Trump’s platform doesn’t include any statements on workplace equity.We’ll look instead at relevant measures by his administration. In 2017, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order. Former President Barack Obama created the order to ensure that companies receiving federal contracts adhere to 14 labor and civil rights laws.

Under Trump’s administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced it doesn’t plan to renew pay data collection, which was reinstated by a federal court after Trump halted the rule in 2017. The Commission determined that it was unduly burdensome for employers to comply with the reporting obligation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden says he will hold employers accountable for discriminatory pay practices by making it easier for employees to join class-action lawsuits, shifting the burden of proof to employers, and increasing penalties for noncompliant companies.

He plans to enact the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to close the gender and racial wage gaps by banning employers from asking for salary history and using it to determine pay and make hiring decisions.

Biden’s platform also calls for affordable and accessible childcare, to support working mothers and all parents.

Diversity Training

President Donald Trump

In a Sept. 4 memo, Trump banned federal agencies from offering racial sensitivity training, particularly on topics like critical race theory and white privilege, and described this training as “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” On Sept. 22, he signed an executive order that also bans companies receiving federal contracts from this kind of training. Noncompliant businesses could lose their contracts.  

Former Vice President Joe Biden

During the Sept. 29 presidential debate, Biden expressed support for implicit bias training: “The fact is that there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like, what insults them, what is demeaning to them.”


President Donald Trump

Trump opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and supports a case before the Supreme Court that would overturn it.

However, Trump has said he’s taken steps to provide more choice and lower the cost of healthcare. In 2019, his administration expanded the availability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which employers can use to repay employees who buy a Health Insurance Marketplace plan. In 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to remove restrictions on short-term, limited duration (STLD) health plans. In 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized rules that extended the coverage period of STLD health plans to up to three years. These plans provide lower-premium options but are noncompliant with ACA and may include fewer benefits. States also can establish their own limits on these plans.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden would expand the ACA and provide a subsidized public option, even to workers who are eligible for healthcare coverage through their employers. Currently, individuals only qualify for subsidies on Marketplace plans if their employer’s job-based insurance offer doesn’t meet minimum standards for affordability and coverage, which is rare. He would keep the employer mandate that requires companies with 50 or more full-time or equivalent employees to offer ACA-compliant health insurance plans and to satisfy reporting requirements. He would also make changes to healthcare-related tax credits, which would allow more individuals to offset and limit healthcare costs.  


President Donald Trump

Trump’s website says he has “enforced immigration laws to protect American communities and American jobs.” Under his administration, visa denials have steadily risen. In October, the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security announced interim final regulations that tightened restrictions on the H-1B worker visa program. The new regulations will require employers to pay higher wages, narrow the types of qualifying degrees, and shorten some visa lengths. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden’s platform calls for establishing a wage-based allocation process and enforcement mechanisms to ensure temporary employment-based visas “are aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages.” He supports increasing the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating country-based limits. Currently, the government caps permanent, employment-based visas at 140,000 per year, but Biden’s administration would award more of these and allow the number to shift to reflect domestic labor market conditions.   

Labor Relations

President Donald Trump

Trump opposes and promises to veto the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would fine companies that interfere with collective bargaining efforts, make it harder to classify workers as independent contractors, expand the definition of a “joint employer”, and abolish right-to-work laws. His administration released a statement that said the bill’s provisions “would kill jobs, violate workers’ privacy, restrict freedom of association, and roll back the Administration’s successful deregulatory agenda.” Under his administration, the National Labor Relations Board has tended to issue employer-friendly decisions.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden’s platform is supportive of unionization and collective bargaining. He’s committed to passing the PRO Act, and his website says he would even go beyond the PRO Act by enacting legislation “to impose even stiffer penalties on corporations and to hold company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts, including criminally liable when their interference is intentional.”

He would restore the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, revoked by Trump, which measured employers’ compliance with employment laws when determining eligibility for federal contracts.

Biden also plans to establish federal standards for worker classification and impose stricter penalties for employers that intentionally misclassify employees as independent contractors to reduce labor costs.

Whatever the election outcome, you’ll need to maintain compliance with new policies. As political developments evolve, it’s tough to remain up to date with labor and employment laws. Don’t open your company up to costly penalties or lawsuits by failing to monitor these political policies that can affect the entire employee lifecycle. With the right business intelligence and compliance platform, you'll have access to the most current HR and employment insights you need to adapt to post-election circumstances. Contact us here to learn more.  

About Expandopedia:

Expandopedia is a global compliance and business intelligence platform designed for HR professionals and business strategists.

Headquartered in Chicago, Expandopedia is powered by a global network of HR & Legal professionals to provide the intelligence that businesses need to thrive and remain compliant when running a multinational business.

Expandopedia provides all the knowledge and insights to successfully onboard, retain and offboard employees as well as data-driven analysis to empower strategic decision making.

Written by Annalisa Rodriguez


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