Equal Pay Law to Keep Balance

Important information: Updated Law Goes Into Effect July 1, 2018; AG’s Office launching new website, webinar series to educate employers. Below is the news release from March 1, 2018:

BOSTON – To ensure that employers are prepared for the updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Act to go into effect this summer, Attorney General Maura Healey today issued new guidance with detailed information and online resources.

The amended law will go into effect on July 1. It provides greater clarity as to what constitutes gender-based wage discrimination, adds new protections for workers, and incentivizes employers to address gender-based pay disparities.

“More than 70 years after Massachusetts became the first state to pass an equal pay law, we still have not achieved equality in our state. We’ve now updated that law to be among the strongest in the country and taken an important step toward closing a gender pay gap that hurts Massachusetts women and families,” AG Healey said. “I thank our many partners for their help in drafting this guidance, which will assist employers in identifying and eliminating unlawful wage disparities. Working together, we can create a stronger and more equitable economy for everyone.”

“Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and its member employers are pleased to have played a constructive role in the development of the pay equity law and guidance,” said Richard C. Lord, President & CEO of AIM. “We appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Maura Healey and her staff who have taken seriously the opinions of the employer community. AIM is now committed to helping Massachusetts businesses comply with the law and we look forward to working with the Attorney General on those efforts.”

“The Equal Pay Coalition is proud to have been part of this bipartisan and broad-based effort to pass legislation that will help not just women, but families across Massachusetts,” said Nina Kimball, Secretary of the Commission on the Status of Women. “The gender wage gap affects every family in the Commonwealth, and the new law’s provisions, including pay transparency and restricting salary history in hiring, will provide tools to women and families that they need to ensure economic security. The Equal Pay Coalition is looking forward to using the Attorney General’s Guidelines to answer many of the questions that employers and employees will have when the new law goes into effect on July 1 of this year.”

 “We were proud to work with Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office on groundbreaking pay equity legislation,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “And we are thankful to the Attorney General and her team for their continued collaboration with and guidance to employers as we prepare for the implementation of the state’s new pay equity law. This guidance is easy to find and use, and will be helpful for employers to ensure they understand their protections and maintain their compliance, and ultimately provide more equitable conditions for women in the workplace.”

“Eleven billion dollars is lost from the Massachusetts economy each year because of the wage gap. That is $11 billion that women and families could spend in local stores and restaurants, or save for the future,” said Jesse Mermell, President of The Alliance for Business Leadership. “This guidance moves us closer to closing the gap, paying women fairly, and making Massachusetts a more equitable place to live, work, and do business.”

In 1945, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to pass an equal pay law, but the gender pay gap persists in Massachusetts and across the country. In Massachusetts, on average, women working full time earn only 84.3 percent of what men earn. And the gap is even larger for women of color.

The amended Equal Pay Act was signed into law on August 1, 2016, after it passed the Legislature unanimously with the support of House and Senate leadership including Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, Senator Karen Spilka, former Chairs of the Labor and Workforce Committee John Scibak and Dan Wolf, and the bill’s lead sponsors, Representative Jay Livingstone, former Representative Ellen Story, and Senator Patricia Jehlen.

The AG’s guidance will be housed on a dedicated webpage that provides a basic step-by-step guide for employers that choose to conduct a self-evaluation, along with a calculation tool created to assist employers in determining where they have potential wage gaps between male and female employees that require further review for compliance with the new law.

In the coming weeks, the AG’s Office will be partnering with business associations and others on a series of webinars and events to provide employers of all sizes with opportunities to ask questions about the new law. More information can be found on the AG’s website

To view the AG’s guidance on the amended Massachusetts Equal Pay Actclick here.