Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, an updated version of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, is now effective as of Sunday, July 1st. The law attempts to address “closing the pay gap” between men and women in Massachusetts, and tries to solidify that women will not be paid less than men for the same work. This new edition of the Mass Equal Pay Act includes a few key changes, according to the MA government web page, Mass.gov:

  1. Employees must be allowed to openly talk about their earnings
  2. Prior to hiring a prospective employee, employers cannot request any information on the new workers’ income history from previous jobs; however, employers are allowed to ask prospective workers what they expect to be paid.
  3. Employers are forbidden from punishing their employees who decide to utilize their rights under this law

These updates attempt to clarify the central idea of the Mass Equal Pay Act, which is that if two employees are performing “comparable work,” one of them cannot be paid less simply due to their gender. Those in favor of the changes explain that the concept of “comparable work” was never clearly outlined in the old law, making it very difficult to enforce the policy of equal pay. One of the main goals for this Mass Equal Pay Law was to increase employer accountability both with in-workplace protections, and clearly defined legal terms which allow employees to file lawsuits against their bosses in the face of potential gender-based discrimination. On the other hand, opponents of the Equal Pay Act argue that there are many factors which go into the amount of time men and women spend at work, and that the gender pay gap is both largely overestimated and not necessarily a result of discrimination. However, even those in favor of the law caution against viewing the pay gap as a complete product of gender-based discrimination. “There are many reasons why men and women will negotiate a salary that might be different,” said Michelle Roccia, Executive Vice President of Employee Engagement at talent-finding company, WinterWyman.

The new Massachusetts Equal Pay Law covers all Mass employees except for US federal government workers, teenage babysitters, and agricultural laborers.