On Monday, the state of Massachusetts passed a landmark law that, amongst other things, prohibits employers from asking about pay at previous positions during the hiring process.
It is the first state to pass such a law, and the law has been called “the most robust pay law in the country.”
It is said that employers often largely base the amount that they pay employees off of pay history, which often adversely affects women and those new to the workforce.
As has been well-documented, women earn 79 cents for every dollar that men make. If future salaries are based upon past salaries, it is believed that this phenomenon is only further perpetuated.
Speaking of the pay gap, Massachusetts’ new law also mandates that men and women be paid equally when they perform work that is “comparable.”
Comparable work is defined as “work that is substantially similar in that it requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.”
This breaks from what has been long been the definition for “comparable work”: having the same job title as someone else.
The law also promotes pay transparency by prohibiting employers from putting a ban on pay discussion amongst employees. Many firms try to block discussion of pay in order to prevent any rifts occurring over differing wages.
Massachusetts’ new law passed the state legislature unanimously, and Republican Governor Charlie Baker has confirmed that he will sign the measure into law.