2016: Time to Address Equal Pay in Congress?


It seems like every month you hear about a new company, such as the start-up, Buffer or the Vermont manufacturer, Logic Supply, deciding to disclose employee salaries to increase transparency in the workplace. And with the country already following the 2016 presidential campaign train, each campaign stop includes a question or two about how the candidates would address the gender wage gap.

Capitol Hill is talking too, with both Democrats and Republicans introducing legislative solutions. This should get the attention of HR professionals.   

SHRM has opposed previous legislative proposals that would severely restrict employers’ pay practices and limit legitimate factors in making employee compensation decisions. But, some recent proposals would address compensation equity without restricting employers’ ability to manage pay practices.

Just in the past few months, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced legislation to prohibit employers from retaliating against their employees who inquire, discuss, or disclose their pay.

And, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) unveiled legislation that also prohibits retaliation against employees who discuss their pay in addition to creating civil penalties for bad actors who willfully engage in gender-based pay discrimination. The penalties would fund a study to increase the number of women in high-wage, high-demand occupations.

And, SHRM members are being increasingly asked to share their perspective on this issue with policymakers. For example, compensation equity was just one topic of conversation when HR professionals from New Hampshire met with Senator Ayotte’s office during SHRM’s 2015 Volunteer Leaders’ Summit Advocacy Day.  

While history shows that a presidential election year rarely leads to large policy changes in Congress, it seems like momentum is building on this topic…

Is 2016 the year that compensation equity rises to the top of the legislative agenda?


Stay tuned to SHRM for additional updates.




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