Will This New Law Help Lower the Gender Pay Gap?

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Photo of earnings statementA new law, the salary privacy bill, seeks to narrow the gender pay gap by forbidding employers from asking applicants about their previous salaries and benefits. The bill was signed into law on October 12, 2017 and takes effect on January 1, 2018. The law does not prevent applicants from voluntarily providing information related to salary, but companies can no longer ask. Additionally, employers will be required, upon reasonable request, to provide applicants with a reasonable pay scale for positions they are applying for.

Few places in the United States have made asking for applicant salary history unlawful: Massachusetts, Oregon, Delaware, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York City are among the most notable. Now with California joining the group, it is expected that these types of laws may become more common.

While the new law applies to both men and women, supporters say it is mainly aimed at preventing discrimination that can follow women from job to job.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, California women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $814. Their male counterparts made $925, meaning women’s median weekly earnings were roughly 88 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings.

Other Laws to Address the Gender Pay Gap

At the time of this writing, Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet made a decision on AB 1209, also known as the Gender Pay Gap Transparency Act. This act, if signed into law, would require employers to collect data on mean and median salaries paid to women and men with the same job titles and descriptions. This information would be published by the Secretary of State and could help narrow the gender pay gap in California.



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