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An Employer's Guide to Equal Pay

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In addressing the Equal Pay Gap, the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor recently released two guides on Equal Pay, A guide to Women's Equal Pay Rights and An Employer's Guide to Equal Pay. These guides are also published in four additional languages: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and French, to meet the diverse needs of today's workforce.

The second guide, An Employer's Guide to Equal Pay breaks down the five major federal laws addressing equal pay and compensation. It also highlights tips for employers to review pay practices and where to go for help. The following information is excerpted from this guide.

Crowded workroom on Broadway, Digital ID 440009, New York Public LibraryMajor Laws Affecting Equal Pay

There are five major federal laws addressing equal pay and compensation.

  • Under the Equal Pay Act, all employers must pay equal wages to women and men in the same establishment for performing substantially equal work.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employers with at least 15 workers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin in all terms and conditions of their employment, including pay. Both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 clarifies that each paycheck containing discriminatory compensation is actionable under Title VII.
  • Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors, federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions, including compensation, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, when these entities' contracts or subcontracts exceed $10,000.
  • The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of most private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.

Reviewing Your Pay Practices

Listen to what your managers and employees are saying.
Look at whether and how you monitor your pay practices.
Increase transparency in compensation:

  • You may want to consider an open pay policy. An open pay policy allows workers to know how much their colleagues are earning. Such a policy can stop speculation about pay—workers will know they are being paid fairly.
  • Make it clear that top performers are rewarded, which creates an incentive to work harder.
  • Stop meritless complaints about unequal pay.
  • Identify pay disparities so they can be fixed.

There is no one correct way to conduct an appropriate evaluation of compensation practices for potential discrimination. Achieving legal compliance and a truly fair and equitable compensation system cannot be reduced to a checklist. You can obtain further compliance assistance from the resources listed below.

For more information on Equal Pay, please visit Job Search Central at 188 Madison Avenue and 34th Street.

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