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Massachusetts Bars Questions About Salary

August 11, 2016
Plain English Version
Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker signs the Pay Equity Act. Photo credit Office of the Governor.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker signs the Pay Equity Act. Photo credit Office of the Governor.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is trying something new. It is the new Pay Equity Act.

There are many laws in effect about pay equity. The purpose is to pay men and women equal wages for the same work.  The laws have helped women. They do not always work. One reason is that workers do not always know how much other people are earning.

The state of Massachusetts is trying a new approach. When an applicant seeks a job, the applicant does not have to reveal his or her salary history. In fact, the employer cannot ask the job seeker.

How can this new law help achieve pay equity? The reason is that women often start their careers at lower salaries than men. That gap occurs both for women with and women without college degrees. As time goes by, raises reflect the earlier salaries. As a result, the gap between men and women grows.

Even big businesses think it is a good idea to use this new approach. Salary offers will reflect the value of the job itself, and not the salary history of the applicant.

Most companies do not encourage workers to share salary information. It often is just the way a company works.  Thirteen states have laws that protect workers who share their salary information.

Advocates say the new law will help groups that often start with lower pay. This affects women and minorities. The Massachusetts law is the first such law in the nation.

Business groups in the state agreed to share payroll information. They want to find new ways to achieve pay equality.

Advocates say the law will not solve every problem. For example, women can lose ground when they are caregivers.  A supporter said the law still “helps women. It helps every single person who applies for a job.”

Source: The Christian Science Monitor August 6, 2016

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