Workforce Issues Aplenty in State of the Union

President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address on Jan. 20, and a number of the legislative proposals highlighted deal directly with workforce issues. Here's a quick rundown, along with the Society for Human Resource Management's response from a statement it released the morning after the speech.

1. Atop the President's workforce-related proposals in his speech was a call for a federal sick leave mandate. SHRM, however, doesn't believe a government-enacted mandate on this front is worthwhile, calling it "the wrong approach" because mandates limit employer flexibility on such policies." SHRM suggests the alternative of expanding voluntary workplace flexibility initiatives like paid leave and flexible work arrangements.

2. President Obama also proposed an expansion of overtime eligibility. SHRM opposes this "because it could have the unintended consequence of moving potentially millions of employees from salary to hourly." Such federally mandated changes, SHRM argues, would again limit employers' flexibility on the subject.

3. In his speech, the President lauded the progress of the Affordable Care Act, which he said has helped millions of Americans gain health insurance coverage they otherwise wouldn't have. SHRM says it recognizes that human resources professionals continue to implement the ACA, with many challenges. SHRM says it "strongly supports efforts to ease the law's impact on both employers and employees, such as modifying the definition of a full-time employee as it relates to the coverage mandate."

For more coverage on the State of the Union, click here, here and here.