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Election 2020: Where Trump and Biden Stand on Total Rewards Topics


The 2020 presidential campaign has been one of the most contentious in recent United States history.

While there are many lenses through which to view the election, the following is a breakdown of where the Republic incumbent, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, stand on issues related to the total rewards and human resources profession.

General Employment and Trade Restrictions


  • Signed executive order that expanded federally funded apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training, providing alternative path to employment vs. college degree.
  • Disfavors aggressive non-compete agreements and encourages use of narrowly tailored provisions.


  • Disfavors non-compete agreements except for narrowly defined category of trade secrets.
  • Disfavors non-solicitation agreements.

Wage and Hour and Fair Labor Standards Act


  • Has expressed concern that federal minimum wage of $7.25 is too low but little efforts by the administration to increase the rate.
  • Gig workers are deemed independent contractors and not employees according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) April 2019 opinion letter.
  • Administration increased salary threshold under FLSA to qualify as exempt employee to $35,568 per year (not indexed for inflation).
  • Administration issued new rule for “joint employer” under FLSA, which limits liability for wage & hour violations for companies that use staffing agencies, temporary workers and subcontractors to perform work.


  • Proposes use of ABC test for gig economy workers to determine employment status; favors classification of gig workers as employees vs. independent contractors. 
  • Supports aggressive effort to crack down on employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors.
  • Supports increasing federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour.
  • In favor of higher threshold under FLSA to qualify as exempt employee with index for inflation.

Union and Labor Relations


  • Supports roll back of union and bargaining rights.
  • Would likely not support right of gig workers to unionize.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued new limiting rule for joint employer definition; clarifies that direct control over an employee is key for determining joint employer status.


  • In favor of ability for gig workers to unionize.
  • Supports majority sign-up process for union elections. 
  • In favor of eliminating right to work laws in US for purpose of strengthening unions.

Benefits and Taxes


  • Health-care specifics: disfavors Affordable Care Act (ACA) and attempted prior repeals in 2017; focused now on ending surprise medical billing and lowering cost of prescription drugs.
    • Lower health-care insurance premiums.
    • Cover all pre-existing conditions.
    • Protect Social Security, Medicare and veterans.
  • Issued executive order that expands Medicare Advantage, the private version of Medicare for seniors. 
  • Opposes Medicare for All as socialism.
  • Supports paid family leave and supported the Advancing Support for Working Families Act.


  • Supports an automatic enrollment into a payroll deduction IRA for employers that do not offer retirement plans.
  • Supports paid family and medical leave for all - proposes for Congress to include paid family leave as a permanent benefit for all workers in the next version of the CARES Act.  
  • Wants to increase Social Security benefits.
  • Pushing for free four-year college.
  • Health-care specifics: proposes to pay for changes via modifying capital gains tax rules and eliminating some of the 2017 income tax rate reductions.
    • Wants to expand ACA to create public option like Medicare through use of tax credits.
    • Lower Medicare eligibility to 60, allow buy-in for younger individuals.
    • Increase eligibility for subsidy under ACA.
    • Implement prescription drug cost controls.
    • Stop surprise medical bills.
    • Use antitrust laws to address consolidation of providers.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


  • Launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, first-ever whole-of-government approach focused on advancing women’s full and free participation in the global economy and allocated $50 million for the fund.
  • Allocated $4.1 million of two-year grants for the 2020 Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant program.


  • Supports changes to existing laws to ensure full participation and equality for people with disabilities.
  • Proposal to advance racial equality; plan centers on bolstering small business opportunities for minority communities, investing in affordable housing and homeownership and expanding access to resources for entrepreneurs of color; $30 billion devoted to new small business opportunity fund; public colleges will be tuition-free for households under $125,000.

Election day is Nov. 3 although early voting will be starting in most states. Vice President Mike Pence will once again be on the ballot with Trump while Biden chose California Sen. Kamala Harris, the first minority woman to be nominated as vice president by a major party, to be his running mate.

The first televised debate between the two candidates will take place Sept. 29, with debates on Oct. 7, 15 and 22 to follow.

About the Authors

Brett Christie Bio Image

Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.

Deirdre Macbeth Bio Image

Deirdre Macbeth is a content director, regulatory, at WorldatWork.

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