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Governor Signs Bipartisan Pay-equity Legislation

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bipartisan pay equity bill yesterday, passed unanimously by both legislative branches, to ensure equal pay for comparable work for all Massachusetts workers and equal opportunities to earn competitive salaries in the workplace.

The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, state Rep. Ellen Story, state Rep. Patricia Haddad, and members of the Legislature at a signing ceremony in the State House to enact S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, which will go into effect on July 1, 2018 for Commonwealth employers and employees.

“I am pleased to sign bipartisan legislation to create a more level playing field in the Commonwealth and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to earn a competitive salary for comparable work,” Baker said. “I thank the Legislature for unanimously passing this bill and working closely with the business community to support women and families across the state.”

Added Polito, “this legislation is an important step toward advancing more equal, inclusive, and thriving workplaces throughout the Commonwealth for women and families. We thank the Legislature for their collaboration with the Commonwealth’s employers and their commitment to creating more opportunities for Massachusetts skilled workforce.”

The new law will prevent pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender. The bill allows employees to freely discuss their salaries with coworkers, prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide their salary history before receiving a formal job offer, and authorizes the attorney general to issue regulations interpreting and applying the expanded law.

Under the new law, employers are permitted to take certain attributes of an employee or applicant into account when determining variation in pay, including their work experience, education, job training, or measurements of production, sales, or revenue.

“This new law is an important step toward ensuring economic security for Massachusetts women and families. It makes vital updates that reflect our modern economy and balance the needs of workers and the business community,” said Attorney General Maura Healey, adding that “pay equity is not only a women’s issue, it’s a family issue, and with this new law on the books, we are closer to closing the pay gap in our state.”

The statute of limitations laid out currently under the equal-pay statute will be expanded from one to three years, and employees will no longer be required to pursue a general claim of intentional discrimination at the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination before filing a separate equal-pay claim in court.

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