NFIB Pushing for Amendment to Equal Pay Bill

Date: May 03, 2016

Current proposal would increase paperwork and lawsuits for small businesses.

NFIB Pushing for Amendment to Equal Pay Bill

A
bill that would expand Massachusetts’ equal pay law is currently lingering in
the House Ways and Means Committee after unanimous passage from the Senate in
late January. While supportive of pay equity, NFIB/MA opposes this bill as
currently written because of the impact to small businesses.

First
of all, equal pay is already the law of the land in Massachusetts and has been
since 1945, when the Bay State became the first state to pass pay equity
legislation. Proponents of the bill (S. 2119), however, believe the law needs
updating and strengthening to eliminate all remaining instances of pay
inequity, which exist for a variety of factors.

S.
2119 will define “comparable work,” prohibit employers from asking job
applicants about salary history, ban employers from instituting workplace rules
against employees discussing compensation, and outline specific reasons that
different wages may be paid for the same job. These practices don’t do anything
to address the right to equal pay—which is already the law—but supporters of
the bill believe it will get rid of situations of wage inequality.

For
small business owners, however, the devil is in the details. The bill would not
only intrude on their ability to own and operate their own business, but it
would also increase their administrative burden and open them up to private
lawsuits as well as legal action from the Attorney General.

Businesses
would be required to take on an extensive amount of paperwork, including a
payroll self-evaluation as a check against pay inequalities and documentation
for all compensation levels with justification for any wage variations. While
the bill spells out permitted reasons for pay differences, they are still open
to subjective definition and interpretation. For example, different levels of
education, training, and experience are acceptable reasons for wage variation,
but only if they are related to the job and necessary to the business.

NFIB
will be pushing for significant amendments to the bill that address the
concerns small business owners have with it. Stay tuned for updates and action
alerts on this issue.

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