Equal Wage Laws to Go In To Effect in California Starting in 2016
For years people like Gloria Steinem paved the way for women. California is one of the first states on board with equal pay for both women. Over the years countless women have been hired with the exact same qualifications as men, only to be paid around 78 cents on the dollar. The Equal Wage Laws will go into effect beginning the first of the year, putting a stop to the disparity.
What Does This Mean For Companies?
It means that companies are going to need to go over their books. Search for people who are on the exact same page, only difference is their sex and their pay. Once an employee has presented the issue to the employer, they will be required to provide reasoning.
It also means that the employer might get brought into court more often. The employee has more of an upper hand than before with the new law. This will result in a need to determine if it is cost effective to fight the employee. The factor must be the whole reason why the employee is paid less or the court is more likely to side with the employee.
Cost of living raises will be hard to justify. If a male works in a more affluent town than a woman who lives in a low cost of living town, pay must remain the same unless other factors are present. Since cost of living is not one of the factors, it will be hard to justify the pay difference.
What Reasoning Is The Employer Looking For?
The employer is looking for proof that the male counterpart was paid more due to a specific reason. The reason must be a seniority system, a merit system, higher education, training, more experience or a system in place that measures quality or quantity. If anyone is fully present than the company might have a case against raising the wages for that particular employee.
Changes in the California Fair Pay Act
They took out the words “equal work” and replaced them with “substantially similar work” meaning skill, effort and responsibility under the same work place conditions.” It also no longer has to be in the same location. This means that if someone in San Francisco and Los Angeles has the same qualifications they can’t get paid more due to cost of living. At least one of the factors above must be met by the man in the other office for the woman’s salary to remain the same.
Changes in Responsibility
The responsibility is now in the hands of the employer. This means that it takes the load off of the employee. It puts the rights in the employee’s hands. The employee will not get in trouble for executing their rights as employer retaliation is against the new law. The employer also keeps records for 3 years instead of the current 2.
What Should Employers Do With This New Knowledge?
The first thing companies need to do is read up on the law. If there is any confusion they should have their lawyer take a look at it. If they do not have a lawyer they might want to hire someone. If they understand it then they need to determine what qualifies as substantially similar work.
They are looking for two people one man and one woman doing the same job with the same everything except their gender. Once they find them they need to verify they are making the same amount of money. If not then it needs to be determined if there is a factor that shows reasoning for the pay difference.
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The employers also need to go over all of their formally documented policies. It is important that they revise the policies to include the new law. One of the pieces within the new law makes it so employees can now converse about salaries. That was something that was not just taboo but was law in many handbooks prior to the new laws.
One of the most important things for companies to roll out is training for anyone that deals with wages. This is very important because if the company is breaking the law by telling them to be hushed, it can create more damage for the employer. You can’t blame the supervisors unless they are trained on the new laws and policies.
Communication is the key in a situation like this. If there is a lack of communication or training that is when more problems come up. So making sure everyone is trained in how to understand the law. Hire an attorney if one is needed. Lastly, make the changes necessary to avoid lengthy court battles.