House Passes Pay Equity Bill

BOSTON – On Thursday, July 14, State Representative Jennifer Benson joined her colleagues to unanimously pass a bill requiring pay equity in the Commonwealth. The bill, An Act to establish pay equity (H.4509), aims to close wage gap among men and women in the workforce.

“Women only earn 82 cents to the dollar that men earn, but make up half of the Commonwealth’s workforce,” said Representative Benson. “That is an alarming disparity that should have been addressed a long time ago.”

H.4509 seeks to help eliminate the gender wage gap by providing more comprehensive definitions of comparable work, working conditions, and wages, and urges employers to complete internal reviews of their payroll to ensure equitable compensation within the industry standards.  Additionally, an employer found to be in violation of the pay equity laws will be required to pay unpaid wages and damages.

The bill, which received widespread support from the business community, not only aims to address pay equity among genders, but offers provisions that will protect all employees. The bill prevents employers from asking a prospective employee about their salary history, and inhibits employers from terminating or retaliating against employees for discussing their compensations with colleagues.

“I was proud to join my colleagues in this very important and long overdue vote on pay equity for women,” said Representative Benson.  “Passing this historic bill will allow us to start closing the unjustifiable wage gap among men and woman in Massachusetts.”

The House (H.4509) and Senate (S.2119) bills, which differ in a few instances, will now go to a conference committee to produce a compromise bill.