Biden Addresses the State of Payroll in Union Address

In the 2022 State of the Union address, President Biden urged Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, paid family and medical leave legislation, and raise the minimum wage. The White House released a Fact Sheet providing further details.

Paycheck Fairness Act

In the White House Fact Sheet, Biden notes that the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) is an important step “towards the goal of ending pay discrimination.” The legislation seeks to limit an employer’s defense in wage discrimination claims to only bona fide job-related factors, increase civil penalties for equal pay violations, and prohibit employers from requiring employees to sign a contract or waiver that does not permit the disclosure of employee’s wages. The legislation also requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to issue regulations for the collection of compensation and other data such as sex, rate, and national origin of employees  from employers to enforce pay discrimination laws. The Act was passed in the House of Representatives on April 15, 2021 and failed to advance in the Senate on June 11, 2021  

$15 Minimum Wage

In his address, President Biden urged Congress to increase the current federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour. Biden has long advocated an increase in the federal minimum wage. In the Fact Sheet, Biden further called for Congress to eliminate the tip credit and require employers that employ tipped workers to pay the federal minimum wage. Finally, Biden asks Congress to abolish the subminimum wage that permits a lower wage to be paid to people with disabilities. Several  states have already repealed state subminimum wage statutes. The Fact Sheet points out that President Biden increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour (see Executive Order No. 14026) for 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. 

The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (H.R. 603), introduced January 26, 2021, sought to increase the minimum wage over five years until it reached $15 per hour. A bid to include it in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) failed and the bill has since stalled. 

Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Fact Sheet notes that 90% of the lowest wage workers have no access to paid family leave. In his address, President Biden urged Congress to pass comprehensive paid family medical leave (PFML) legislation. The Build Back Better (BBB) Act contained a provision establishing universal paid family and medical leave, however, the BBB remains in limbo, and the PFML provision was hotly contested and removed from the Senate version of the bill and made its way to the House-passed version of the bill. 

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