Special to the Independent
Senator DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate recently passed legislation to tackle pay inequities in the state, which significantly and disproportionately impact women and people of color across the Commonwealth. The bill targets these inequities by empowering employees with salary information, including when they are seeking jobs and receiving promotions, and by giving the state new data tools to track employment trends.
“Passing this policy has great significance for our state, and especially for the women and people of color in my district who are too often losing out on wages because of their identity,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “Equipping workers with salary information is the first step in preventing discrimination and moving us towards equal pay for all our state’s workers. I want to thank Senate President Karen Spilka and my colleagues for approving this important legislation that will empower workers throughout the Commonwealth.
“This is simple: everyone deserves equal pay for equal work, regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, or background,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), who sponsored previous pay equity legislation that was enacted into law in 2016. “It is far too common for women and people of color to be paid less than their coworkers nationwide, and we are not immune to this discrepancy here. By passing this bill, the Senate stands united behind every worker—and with every business—in Massachusetts in our steadfast commitment to the fundamental principle that every person has the right to be treated and compensated fairly in the workplace.”
The bill—S.2468, also known as the Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act—empowers job applicants by requiring employers with 25 or more employees to include salary range information in job postings. It also requires employers to provide salary ranges to employees offered a promotion or a transfer, as well as to employees currently working in a position, should they ask.
If signed into law by the Governor, the legislation would boost Massachusetts’ ability to track pay discrepancies. It requires employers with 100 or more employees to file annual employment data reports, including information on employee demographics and salaries, with the state. In addition, the bill directs the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to track compensation data and file an annual report on data showing the Commonwealth’s progress toward equal pay for equal work.
The bill marks another step forward for pay equity in a state with a long history on the topic. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to pass pay equity legislation in 1945, and most recently passed legislation in 2016, when the legislature passed An Act to Establish Pay Equity, which barred employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history and guaranteed the right of workers to discuss salary with other employees. The Governor signed the bill later that year.
According to a report from the National Women’s Law Center, women in Massachusetts who are employed full-time earn 85.7 cents for every dollar that men make. Women of color face even steeper inequities: Black women make 58.1 cents per dollar; Hispanic women make 53 cents; Native American women make 66 cents; and Asian women make 91 cents.
The legislation would boost awareness of the rights it guarantees employees, by directing the Attorney General to begin an outreach and awareness campaign. It would also give the Attorney General new authority to enforce the law among employers in the state.
The effort to boost salary transparency has robust support from businesses and industry advocates.
A previous version of this bill having passed the House of Representatives, the two branches will now reconcile the differences between the bills, before sending it to the Governor’s desk.