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Equal Pay

In today's workplace, there is an increased focus on equal pay and eliminating the wage gap as the data shows that women still only make an average of approximately 82 cents for every dollar a man earns.

At the federal level, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women receive equal pay for substantially equal work in terms of skill, effort and job responsibility, subject to some exceptions. Pay refers not just to salary but also overtime, bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, stock options, life insurance, and all other benefits and compensation. Federal discrimination law also prohibits wage discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability, among other things. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is committed to eradicating wage discrimination and increasing pay transparency as part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan.

At the state and local level, there also is a renewed focus on equal pay laws. Some laws expand the protected classes for wage discrimination while others specifically prohibit an employer from banning employees from discussing their salaries. Other states require employers to provide specific notice to employees of their equal pay rights. Another continuing trend is jurisdictions enacting laws prohibiting an employer from asking prospective employees about prior salary history or wages, as this may perpetuate an existing wage gap.

The following are some key steps for HR to take to prevent wage discrimination and promote fair pay:

1. Audit Pay Practices