To help close the pay gap between men and women, Massachusetts has enacted the first state law barring employers from asking about an applicant’s past wages before offering a job. Instead, employers are now required to state a compensation figure upfront which forces decision makers to hire based solely on what an applicant’s worth is to the company instead of past pay.

In the past companies have tended to set salaries for new employees using their current or former pay rate as a main factor. Studies have shown that historically women and minorities have been paid less. This bold effort attempts to correct for this often unintentional bias towards white males.

“I think very few businesses consciously discriminate, but they need to become aware of it,” said Massachusetts State Senator Pat Jehlen, a Democrat and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “These are things that don’t just affect one job; it keeps women’s wages down over their entire lifetime.”

It should be noted that current Federal law already prohibits pay discrimination based on sex but cases of blatant violation are not easy to demonstrate. According to a recent New York Times article, the wage gap exists in nearly every industry and women today in America make 79 cents for every dollar men earn. Interestingly, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found that closing the gender wage gap would lower the poverty rate in every state.

Additionally, the new state law will prohibits employers from preventing the sharing of salary information among current and prospective employees as well as broadens the definition of comparable jobs to encompass work of “comparable operations”.

What if your firm is not based in Massachusetts? You can still create company policy that does not ask about or consider past pay when making hiring decisions. Setting and reviewing salary ranges for positions and categories of work duties is another important step to establish the worth of specific work to your company.

For help with hiring decisions, contact Momentum Search Consultants. We have several decades of employment law experience and know national hiring trends and salary ranges in the Health & Beauty Aids industry.

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