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Don't Wait to Evaluate Pay Equity Compliance

August 13, 2019
It has been more than a year since The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (Pay Equity) became effective. Forty-four states have enacted some form of equal-pay legislation.
The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act provides a complete defense to a charge of pay discrimination for any employer that has conducted a good faith, reasonable self-evaluation of its pay practices within the previous three years and before a lawsuit is filed against it.  The employer must show reasonable progress towards eliminating any gender-based wage differentials that its self-evaluation reveals.
There has only been one high-profile pay equity case in Massachusetts, involving the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  This doesn’t mean employers are in the clear or should wait before conducting a self-evaluation.
What does a self-evaluation include?
A self-evaluation includes determining comparable jobs based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.  Many employers need to go back and update job descriptions prior to determining comparable jobs.
Next, employers must review the compensation of employees within those comparable groups to determine if there is a pay disparity between genders.  This process is not as simple as it may sound at first.  Any gaps in pay must be analyzed to determine if they are allowable under the law, and if not, a plan for remediation must be developed. A simple comparison of average male pay versus average female pay is not sufficient. 
Lastly, companies should develop salary ranges and overall pay philosophies to ensure consistent, compliant pay practices in the future.
It is a best practice to review your pay equity on an annual basis.  The good news is that year two is an abbreviated process since comparable groups will have already been established and may require minimal changes.  
AIM HR Solutions recommends the following process in year two:
  1. Review your 2018 comparable groups and determine whether any positions need to be reclassified.  This may also require updating pay equity documentation and job descriptions.
  2. Download current payroll data for detailed analysis.  
  3. If there are gaps in pay, determine whether they are due to one of the pay equity allowable reasons.
  4. Determine if any remediation is required and develop a plan to adjust compensation accordingly.
  5. Annual documentation, including comprehensive job descriptions and compensation systems, will be key to supporting your pay practices.
Please contact Beth Yohai at or 617-488-8335 to find out how AIM HR Solutions can assist you with your pay equity self-evaluation.
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