Regulation Rollback

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Nov 15, 2016 8:30:00 AM

A new administration will be sworn into office in January.  Near the top of the agenda is the repeal of Federal regulations that are thought to have created a drag on the economy and on small businesses specifically.  The Trump transition website describes the components of the regulatory reform agenda as a "temporary moratorium on all new regulation, canceling overarching executive orders and a thorough review to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that kill jobs and bloat government." While some regulation is certainly necessary, there is evidence that the regulatory burden in the United States has taken a toll on economic growth.  A recent Mercatus Center study of 22 industries, looking at data over 35 years, estimates that the U.S. economy would have been $4 trillion larger in 2012, had regulatory growth been halted in 1980.  For small businesses, credited as our best job creators, the burden is significant. It is 36% more costly for small businesses to comply with regulation than their large competitors. A lower regulatory burden could, it seems, boost the economy and jobs. But how easy is it to roll back regulations and reverse a previous administration's policies?

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Topics: contracting, labor, regulations, small business

Is Your Company Culture What You Think It Is? 3 Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Oct 4, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Company culture is important.  It affects employee engagement, differentiates your company from competitors and drives success.  For small companies, finding the time and energy to focus on defining company values and culture may seem a luxury.  But whether it's consciously cultivated or it grows organically, every company has a culture.  Whatever the origins, it's important to understand what your company's culture is -- not just on paper, but in practice.  While a strong culture has many benefits, a damaged culture can wreak havoc. No matter how virtuous a company's stated values and principles are, if the reality is an environment where unethical behavior can take hold, big problems await  We've identified some culture pitfalls to avoid.  

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Topics: labor, small business

Small Business Retirement Options:  Public Policy Trends

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 27, 2016 8:56:19 AM

The financial preparedness of Americans for retirement is an important public policy question. Clearly, there are undesirable consequences for society if its senior population is unable to provide for its own needs. And, of course, individuals do not want to find themselves without the means to afford food, shelter, and medicine in their golden years.  Still, the retirement planning of many Americans is wanting.  Nearly half (45%) of Americans have no retirement savings. Seventy percent of couples have less than $50,000 saved for retirement.  The gap between what American households have actually saved and what they should have saved to maintain their living standards in retirement has grown to $7.7 trillion.  (Is someone expected to bridge that gap?) These are a few troubling statistics that create heartburn for public policymakers.  Since many Americans save for retirement through an employer-provided plan (only 10% of employees contribute to a retirement plan outside of work), the question some legislators and regulators are focused on is how to expand the availability of retirement options through employers.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

Six Suggestions for How to Thank Your Employees

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Sep 6, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Focus Data Solutions hopes you enjoyed a restful and enjoyable Labor Day holiday.  As the long weekend that marks the end of summer, many of us gathered at barbecues, enjoyed the last weekend at the pool or finished our first-day-of-school preparations. We may not have spent much time paying tribute to American workers for their contributions to the "strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country," as the holiday intends. No worries. It's never too late to focus on worker appreciation, and we have some suggestions about how to recognize your company's employees for their hard work.

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Topics: labor

Social Media Use -- Does Your Company Need a Policy?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Aug 30, 2016 8:29:39 AM

Individuals and businesses are increasingly utilizing social media to present themselves to others, as well as to gather information.  According to Statista, 78% of the United States population has a social networking profile.  By 2020, an estimated 2.95 billion people will be using social media worldwide -- that's a third of the Earth's population. So, chances are most of your employees are using social media sites, and it's quite possible their activity may affect more than their personal life. Employee use of social media may consume company time, open doors to security breaches, and influence public opinion and reputations.  So, should businesses adopt social media policies to keep employees on task and in check?

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Topics: labor, internet, social media

What's New in the Final Overtime Rules?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 24, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor's (DOL) proposal to change the rules on who is eligible for overtime pay has been finalized and published in the Federal Register.  During the development of these new regulations, TECHPol has been keeping you up to date (see blog post: Five Things to Know About New Overtime Rules). The new rules represent significant change, and after receiving feedback from stakeholders on its earlier proposal, the DOL made a few changes in the final rule.

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Topics: labor, regulations

Employee Satisfaction: Where Do You Rank?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 17, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Last month, there was a congressional hearing to examine the Best and Worst Places to Work in the Federal Government. The Office of Personnel Management actually takes an annual survey of Federal workers, and a non-profit group uses the data to provide rankings of agencies. This is valuable data for organizations, in both the public and private sector.  Engaged, happy workers are more productive and less likely to jump ship. What if your employees were surveyed and your business was compared to others in your industry -- how do you think you'd rank? Does the thought make you cringe?  Are you confident, but acknowledge there is room for improvement? Well, we've done some research and have some suggestions for you.  And, the good news, especially for small businesses with tight budgets, is that most of it costs nothing.

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Topics: labor, small business

Five Things Businesses Need to Know about DOL's New Persuader Rule

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 5, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor (DOL) has been busy. In previous posts, TECHPol has discussed some of the DOL's recent proposals on overtime, joint-employer status, and minimum wage, among other new rules.  On March 24th, the DOL published yet another regulation; this one would increase disclosure of the arrangements businesses make with attorneys or third-party consultants to persuade employees related to union-organizing activities. The Labor Department feels the new regulation is necessary to provide transparency and allow employees to make better informed choices as they exercise their workplace rights, but as you might guess, the business community and some in the legal profession feel the rule goes too far.  Here's what you need to know.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

Overtime Regulations: One Step Closer to Change

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed significant changes to overtime rules. (See blog post: Five Things to Know About New Overtime Rules).  Under the DOL proposal, published in July 2015, some 5 million more workers will qualify to be paid "time and a half" for working more than 40 hours a week.  The DOL's proposal would increase the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $23,660 annually to $50,440 (a 113% increase), which would be automatically updated annually. The proposal also contemplates a change in the "duties test" to determine overtime eligibility, but it's not clear what the agency has in mind.  Last week, the DOL submitted its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval.  OMB now has 90 days to review the rule before a final version is published.  While we don't know for sure what is in the final rule, Congress has responded with legislation to block it.

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

Paid Leave Benefits: Policy Changes and Private-Sector Trends

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 16, 2016 8:30:00 AM

There's a move afoot among legislators on the national, state, and local levels to require companies to provide a minimum amount of paid leave.  President Obama is a vocal advocate of the policy, and statehouses and city councils, like those in Maryland and the District of Columbia, are debating the costs and benefits of legally requiring businesses to adopt specific leave policies.  Meanwhile, some private-sector businesses are evaluating their workforce and cultures and deciding to offer unlimited time off to employees without government prodding. 

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Topics: labor, regulations, small business

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

Technology Policy Small Business


About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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