Election 2020: What Employers Can Expect

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Election 2020 Infographic

Every time an election occurs in the United States, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Will the new leadership introduce legislation that changes the face of business, hiring and employment? What about worker-friendly stances? In 2020, these questions are once again at the forefront. Below we explore the platforms and strategies of the Democratic and Republican parties for the 2020 election. This resource highlights the views of presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump across different policies that pertain to employers and business leaders.

What Employers Can Expect From a Biden Presidency

What Employers Can Expect From a Trump Presidency

Wage and Hour, Labor Relations

Joe Biden is a proponent of the movement to raise the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour. During a presidential debate on October 22, 2020, Biden said workers deserve a minimum wage of $15. "Anything below that puts you below the poverty level," he said. "And there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business. That is simply not true."

During his tenure as Vice President under the Obama administration, Biden worked to roughly double the amount salaried workers must earn in order to be exempt from overtime and establish future cost-of-living adjustments. (This rule was stopped by a federal court before it could take effect, however.)

On the organized labor front, Biden's first announcement of his candidacy frames that support very well: "I'm a union man. Period." His plan to support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is a clear example of his commitments to union workers.

Although Donald Trump has at times expressed his support for raising the federal minimum wage, his administration has never formally advanced it - instead favoring tax reductions, reduced regulation and fair trade deals.

During a presidential debate on October 22, 2020, Trump said, "I think [the minimum wage] should be a state option. Alabama is different than New York. New York is different from Vermont. Every state is different." Raising the minimum wage to $15 would put small businesses out of business, he said.

Trump's administration has claimed increases in wages during his tenure, but data is unclear if those increases are due to tax and regulatory policy or state- and local-level minimum wage changes. Under Trump, the Obama-era overtime rule change was reduced to 50% of its initial reach in an effort to balance the needs of workers with business viability.

It's almost certain that proposed regulations making it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors would take effect if Trump is re-elected.

Historically Republican administrations have leaned towards supporting businesses through tax breaks and incentives, but they are not typically union-friendly. Instead, President Trump's focus is on bringing jobs back to the US by leveraging tariffs and taxes on firms that do not move jobs back to the US. In his first term, more than $80 billion in tariff increases were passed; this focus on bringing jobs back to the US is a priority for his potential next term.

Benefits and Healthcare

Biden has outlined his support for the FAMILY Act, the core of which focuses on providing 12 weeks of paid leave for all workers for their own or a family member's serious health condition. This would dramatically expand the current leave requirements for businesses across the country. Biden has also expressed support for mandatory sick leave laws, similar to what was seen in the Healthy Families Act.

On the healthcare front, the former Vice President has said that reforms should be made in small steps, first by improving on the Affordable Care Act and then potentially adding a public option. He also believes in reducing prescription drug prices by comparing rates against cheaper international costs.

In 2019, President Trump signed a law that provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers, offering paid leave to millions of civilian workers.

With regards to healthcare, the Trump administration has taken numerous actions to short circuit the Affordable Care Act over the last few years, calling the program a "broken mess." One primary action was eliminating the individual mandate that penalized any US resident who did not have health insurance in place.

In his 2020 platform, Trump has said his second term would include plans to "lower healthcare insurance premiums" and "cut prescription drug prices," but no further details were given.

Payroll and Taxes

The Democratic candidate has made it very clear that he plans to increase taxes for the highest-income earners (those making $400,000 or more in a year) in order to fund some of his other initiatives.

Biden's plan includes raising corporate taxes and setting a minimum tax rate for businesses. His plan is combined with a mixture of penalties and incentives to drive investment in US job growth, bringing investments back from overseas.

To support workers at the other end of the income spectrum, there are several ideas on the table, including special incentives for 401(k) plans and retirement savings accounts to encourage lower- and middle-class Americans to save more.

A tax credit for businesses that hire workers with disabilities is also one of the proposed changes.

One of the landmark legislative wins for the Trump administration was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which provided a range of benefits and tax reductions for both individuals and businesses. For instance, it doubled the standard deduction for filers, increasing the amount they could exclude from income. It also offered a tax deduction of 20% for qualified businesses, including sole proprietorships. Some of the TCJA provisions are expiring in the coming years but could be extended, making it difficult to calculate the long-term benefit of those changes.

In his second term, Trump's current plans include "cut taxes to boost take-home pay," but no details have been provided yet.

His plans also include incentives for investments in economically distressed areas, as well as forgiveness of the employee-side payroll tax deferral happening in the last quarter of 2020.


Research shows that political conditions can greatly affect the outputs and focus of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Historically, EEO investments have been heavier during Democratic administrations, which could align with greater enforcement or innovation. For instance, during the Obama administration, the EEOC began procedures to collect pay data from employers to ensure pay equity.

Continuing that trend, former Vice President Biden has made public commitments to fair pay, including support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, to provide pay equality and an equal footing for women and minorities in the workplace.

He takes his stance further by advocating for the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace (BE HEARD) Act, which specifically supports the elimination of systemic harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

The Republican party has re-adopted its 2016 platform, which mentions "racial equality" but provides no further details about race or equity.

On a practical note, data shows that the Trump administration's Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has collected record amounts of back wages for women and people of color in response to discrimination claims, hitting three annual records and two of the largest individual payout records in the agency's history.

Additionally, the Trump era EEOC has continued with aggressive litigation and enforcement of nondiscrimination laws, with 2018's total payouts of monetary benefits for complainants outpacing five of the previous six years.