As we gear up to enter 2021, we are also getting ready for a new president to take over, after Job Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Typically, new administrations also bring new policies and procedures, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the entire world and the economy still being unstable, we can certainly expect new changes to get us back to work, safely.
Below are some of the changes we most likely will see based on the Biden presidency agenda and how they can affect the hospitality industry and employment. These policies can change in the future.
- COVID-19 testing will be widespread and free: The most important factor in getting the economy back and staff back to work is to get the pandemic under control. In the Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus and Prepare for Future Global Health Threats, testing will be available for everyone, and more rapid. This will help to control the virus from spreading, getting us to recovery and allowing for travel to being again, so that the public can safely go eat out, or stay in hotels without fearing getting sick. This will also help keep workers safe as they return to their jobs.
- Companies will need to keep lobbying for aid: Under the Trump administration, we saw a few stimulus packages come through for both businesses and individuals, however, benefits are coming to an end and the industry is still struggling through the huge decline in travel and leisure during 2020. Although it has not been clearly stated by the campaign, the U.S. Travel Association is hopeful the new administration will provide further aid to the travel and hospitality industries.
- Stronger international relations: Although this is not a specific policy, Biden has a history of positive working relationships with international governments; therefore, it is likely he will continue to boost those relationships, which could lead to more international travel. This would in turn increase hotel and restaurant occupancy, and ultimately lead to companies hiring more staff to meet the demand.
- Advance racial equity in America: We began to see an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in 2020, with many companies creating plans and efforts to hire and advance more people of color. If our president pushes for racial equality throughout the country as well, we will begin to see more job opportunities for diverse staff members, helping to close the racial wealth gap and start to see more diverse upper management. Hospitality is staffed mainly by workers of color, however, in 2015, 81% of upper management positions were held by a white employee
- Scale-up short-time compensation: Short-time compensation allows for companies in distress (such as during a public health crisis) to keep workers employed at reduced hours with the federal government making up the difference in wages. The hardest-hit industry during the COVID-19 pandemic was the hospitality industry, with many restaurants having to permanently close and hotels having to furlough or layoff staff, forcing staff to take on multiple jobs or survive off of unemployment benefits. With short-time compensation, in a future situation, as many workers as possible could remain attached to their jobs and receive full wages and health benefits even if employers cut their hours.
- Level the playing field for all small businesses: Biden plans to enforce laws and regulations to combat corporate power and promote competition so that small businesses have a shot at success. He plans to expand the funding for Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to ensure small town and rural businesses have access to the capital they need. There is also a $400 billion procurement effort to support small businesses and tackle inequities. By putting more focus on small businesses and enforcing stricter rules on larger corporations, many hotel and management companies could be facing higher taxes and regulations.
- New taxes for those earning $400,000 or more annually: With the Biden plan to tax the high earners, and enact more than one-dozen tax cuts on the middle class, it could affect the types of travel and the amount of travel from each wealth class. Previously, we found that millennials contributed the most to leisure and hospitality revenue, and most millennials will likely recieve the tax cuts, therefore we could see even higher millennial spending for leisure and hospitality. In turn, there may be less luxury travel happening if the high-earners are seeing higher taxes.
As Biden continues to put together his Build Back Better action plan, we will be on the lookout for more deliverables and action items that will enforce these policies, and how they will affect the hospitality industry and it’s workers.