House passed bill to close gender wage gap

Rep. Josh Cutler joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing bi-partisan legislation (158-0) to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work.

The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.

The legislation is intended to promote salary transparency, limit, and encourage companies to conduct reviews to detect pay disparities. Notably, the bill would limit upfront questions to job candidates about salary history, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.

“Pay equity gets at the heart of who we are as Americans,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the legislators who have raised their voices and tenaciously pursued this issue for decades. Your work will shape a better and more just future for women in the Commonwealth.”

“I’m proud of this historic step the House took today in eliminating gender discrimination of the payment of wages for comparable work,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia A. Haddad.

 “With the passage of this bill, the House of Representatives has made a historic commitment to attacking the wage gap. The new protections and policy will make the Massachusetts equal pay statute the strongest in the nation” said John W. Scibak, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “This bill will forest a culture of corporate accountability and is a crucial step towards ensuring equal pay for equal work.”

Major business groups backed the consensus House bill, which recognizes legitimate market forces such as performance and the competitive landscape for certain skills that cause pay differences among employees.

The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.
In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining "comparable work" and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation.

The bill also prohibits an employer from preventing employees from talking about their salaries. The legislation would take effect of July 1, 2018.


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Rep. Josh S. Cutler
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Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2810

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