Massachusetts Becomes First State Ever To Ban Employers From Asking For Salary Histories

Massachusetts has traditionally been ahead of the curve when passing new labor laws. Most recently, MA passed the strongest equal pay law in the country. On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the new law aimed at strengthening pay equity for women in the Commonwealth. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2018. The new law revises Massachusetts’s Equal Pay Law by mandating that employers pay men and women equal pay for both the same work and comparable work. The law also provides a more comprehensive definition of comparable work as being “substantially similar” in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions – not just based on job titles or descriptions.

In addition, the law prohibits employers from asking prospective employees for their salary histories during the hiring process unless the candidate discloses the information voluntarily. An employer may only ask compensation details once a candidate is offered a job. By banning salary history requirements, legislators hope to end disparities among women as employers base new pay on the value of the work rather than strictly offering a salary based on previous histories. Based on a variety of reasons (discrimination, negotiations, beginning their careers at a lower salary than men), women’s previous salaries may already be at a lower negotiation point than the value of the new job. MA is the only state in the country to impose restrictions on salary history discussions.

Women’s work has long been undervalued and underpaid, as compared to men and when women move into higher paying, male-dominated jobs, the pay decreases.

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