Oct 26 2021
Joshua Goodbaum: Hi Amanda.
Amanda DeMatteis: Hi Josh, what are we going talk about today?
Goodbaum: I thought we could talk about an exciting new law that provides additional protection for Connecticut employees. The official name of the law is, “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position.” So, doesn’t really roll off the tongue but the basic idea of this law is to increase transparency about compensation with the ultimate goal of increasing pay equity or reducing the gender wage gap we’ve heard so much about, this idea that men are often paid more for the same or similar work than women are. This law was passed in June 2021, it has an effective date in October 2021. You’re going tell us a little more about it.
DeMatteis: Yeah, I am. So it impacts virtually every Connecticut employee, which is exciting. The only exceptions to that are those who are employed by the federal government and those who are self-employed. Everyone else, we are getting the protections- these new employee rights protections of this law, which is exciting.
As it relates to current employees, under the new law, an employer is not allowed to prohibit employees from talking about their wages or another employee’s wages when those wages were voluntarily disclosed.
Similar to that, an employer cannot require employees to waive their right to talk about either their own or each other’s wages, again, as long as those communications are voluntary. An employer cannot fire, discipline, discriminate, or retaliate against any employee that talks about their wages or another employee’s wages, again, as long as they were voluntarily disclosed. So it opens up the ability for employees to talk amongst themselves about their wages and allows them to do so without fear that their employer is going to take an adverse employment action against them, which really goes to the heart of the gender wage gap, which we’re going to talk about in just a bit.
Second, the employer is not allowed to fail or refuse to disclose a wage range for a specific position. So, that can be at the time of hire, for prospective employees, that can be upon changing an employee’s position, or upon anytime an employee first requests that they would like wage range information of this specific position that they’re inquiring about. Now, what an employee can’t ask is, “Hey boss, I want to know how much Amanda makes.” There’s a difference there. The employer is not required to disclose the amount of wages paid to any individual employee, but they are required to give the wage range for a position, of course, upon request.
Then we get into the Equal Pay Act, as we have formally noted in Connecticut, and how this new law impacts that. So, of course, the ability for employees to talk amongst themselves about their wages is paramount to how powerful the Equal Pay Act actually is. Think about it, a woman at work is not going to know that her male counterpart is making more money than her unless of course, he tells her. So this ability to be able to freely volunteer wage information at work is critical. What this new law does is that it now reduces the standard to what’s called, “comparable work,” as opposed to “equal work.” Under our previous laws, employee would need to be able to compare themselves to another employee based on those wages under the more stringent equal work. Now it’s comparable work, so it’s easier for us to prove, “Hey, that guy who’s doing comparable work to me is making more money, and that’s not right, right? Our pay should be equal.”
Hopefully, all the new protections here, which modify some previous protections that we already had, and throw in a couple of extras, are going to help decrease the gender wage gap here in Connecticut.
Goodbaum: Some fantastic information, thank you so much, Amanda. If you have any questions about that, feel free to reach out to us, but for now, thanks so much.