STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
THE MASSACHUSETTS Legislature unanimously passed a law in 2016 to address the yawning gap between the wages paid to men and women doing the same work, a law that Rep. Christine Barber on Wednesday called “one of the strongest pay equity laws in the country.”
But as she made the case on the House floor Wednesday for new legislation requiring businesses with at least 25 employees to include a projected pay range in any hiring advertisement for a specific position, Barber said the wage gap has actually gotten worse in Massachusetts since 2016.
“The wage gap still persists. Women earn just 81 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that gap has actually increased since the data was first collected in 2016. Moreover, Native American women earn 59 cents for every dollar, Black women earn 57 cents, and Latinas earn just 51 cents,” the Somerville Democrat said. “These data points are not only startling, but they’re unacceptable. So today we are responding. The bill before us is a critical step to achieve true pay equity.
Under the bill , which moves to the Senate after a 148-8 vote in the House on Wednesday, any public or private employer with 25 or more employees posting a job would need to list the annual salary or hourly wages they “reasonably and in good faith” expect to pay. It also outlines new data-collection steps designed to monitor for gender and racial wage gaps within individual business sectors.
“Research shows that pay range transparency in the hiring process is one of the best tools to help close historic gender and racial wage gaps because women and people of color are more likely to underestimate their earning power. The legislation also protects an employee’s right to ask for pay ranges in the workplace including when they’re offered a promotion or a job transfer. These measures ensure that employees are armed with the knowledge to make informed decisions,” Rep. Josh Cutler of Duxbury, the bill’s lead sponsor, said. “But it’s not just all about employees and job seekers. These measures will also help employers to build trust, promote fairness, and attract and retain top talent.”
The bill is a top priority of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators and advanced to the House floor relatively quickly upon being redrafted and reported out of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development last week.
“The Women’s Caucus selected this bill as just one of five legislative priorities, fitting under our strategic priority to elevate women’s economic opportunity and to eliminate barriers. Representing 31 percent of the Legislature, our 62-member bipartisan and bicameral caucus selected this bill is a priority given our history in supporting pay equity legislation and because this bill represents the next step towards true pay equity,” Rep. Hannah Kane, a Shrewsbury Republican who serves as House chair of the Caucus of Women Legislators, said.
No representatives spoke against the bill before the House’s vote. The eight ‘no’ votes were cast by Republican Reps. Donald Berthiaume of Spencer, Nicholas Boldyga of Southwick, David DeCoste of Norwell, Marc Lombardo of Billerica, Kelly Pease of Westfield, Michael Soter of Bellingham, Alyson Sullivan-Almeida of Abington, and Steven Xiarhos of Barnstable.
Sens. Patricia Jehlen and Paul Feeney are among the bill’s supporters in the Senate.