Attorney General Maura Healey today issued much-anticipated guidance for employers on complying with the new Massachusetts wage-equity law that takes effect on July 1.
The 30-page guidance document addresses key issues such as the definition of comparable work, the employees who will be covered by the law, permissible variations in pay, and the subjects that may no longer be discussed during employment interviews. There is also a downloadable calculator designed to help smaller businesses to identify differences in pay that may require analysis.
“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 Healey and 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 first step in that compliance education effort will take place on March 13 and 15 as Genevieve Nadeau, Chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, will join two AIM webinars looking at details of the new law. The March 13 webinar is for small employers while the March 15 session is for larger employers.
The law provides different compliance measures based on the size of a company’s comparable-work groups. For the purposes of the two webinars, large employers are those with one or more comparable work groups with 30 or more employees. Comparable work groups cross organizational lines and departments and are comprised of jobs for which work is substantially similar in that it requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.
Smaller employers will likely be able to use the Attorney General's calculator exclusively. AIM members with questions about their status may call the Employer Hotline at 800-470-6277.
The wage-equity law, signed by Governor Charlie Baker on August 1, 2016, is intended to promote salary transparency, limit questions to job candidates about salary history, and encourage companies to conduct reviews to detect pay disparities. But the law also recognizes legitimate bases for pay differences among employees such as performance and differences in education, training, and experience.
The law states that “no employer shall discriminate in any way based on gender in the payment of wages, or pay any person in its employ a salary or wage rate less than the rates paid to its employees of a different gender for comparable work.
The Attorney General’s guidance document outlines the instances under which wage differentials are permitted. Those differentials may be based upon:
- a system that rewards seniority with the employer;
- a merit system;
- a system that 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 job in question; or
- travel, if the travel is a regular and necessary condition of the job.
Joining Nadeau for the AIM small-business wage-equity webinar will be Kyle Pardo, Vice President of AIM HR Solutions, and David Wilson and Arielle Kristan, lawyers at the firm of Hirsch Roberts and Weinstein. The expert panel for the large-company webinar will include Nadeau, Pardo, and lawyers Robert Fisher and Hillary Massey of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Fisher chairs AIM’s HR-Labor Law Committee.