Equal Pay Act: Into effect on July 1st. How will it benefit you?
Recently there has been a lot of buzz around the Equal Pay Act. You may think, how will this affect me? Or what is the Equal Pay Act? Well, we are here to help break it down for you!
In 1963, the federal Equal Pay Act went into effect, but at the time the law was initiated it did not discuss the discrepancies between men and women. Frankly, the law just wasn’t strong enough and did not discuss all the causes of unequal pay. In many cases, it still allowed businesses to abide by the law all the while still giving unequal pay for equal work.
Truthfully, most employers have not intentionally caused the disparity between men and women in the workplace, in that one gender was paid more than the other. In many instances, the discrepancy in salary between men and women was dependent on factors such as past salary. Interestingly, even determining salary on a person’s work history is sustaining the issue with inconsistencies in salary for men and women. The equality of pay has continued to be a hotly debated subject and laws proceed to come into effect.
So what does the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Act entail and who does it apply to?
- MEPA applies to all private employers, including those located outside of Massachusetts, who have employees that have a primary workplace within Massachusetts, and applies to full-time, part-time, seasonal, per-diem and temporary employees.
MEPA enforces three new strict limitations on employers:
- Prior to making an offer of employment, employers are no longer able to seek the salary or wage history of a potential employee.
- Employers may not prohibit employees from discussing their wages with each other and cannot ask employees to enter into agreements not to discuss wages.
- Employers may not retaliate against an employee who in good faith reports a violation of MEPA, even where the employee’s claim is ultimately without merit.
The “Comparable Work” Requirement
MEPA prohibits discrimination of gender in regards of “wages” (i.e. all incentive pay, commissions, bonuses, profit-sharing and opportunity to participate in benefit programs) for “comparable work”. This entails work that requires similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.
Effective July 1st MEPA will update the law and there will only be six circumstances where the employer may justify pay differences between male and female employees performing “comparable work”.
- A seniority “system”
- A merit “system”
- A “system” which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue.
- The geographic location in which a job is performed
- Education, training or experience to the extent such factors are reasonably related to the particular job in question
- Travel, if the travel is a regular and necessary condition of the particular job.