Equal pay for doing the same job is protected by the Equal Pay Act. The Act basically assures the right of every man and woman within a workplace to equal compensation for the same type and amount of work. The jobs don’t need to be identical, and any substantially equal jobs count.
What Does Equal Pay Include?
This means if a man and a woman are doing the same type of work, both employees should get the same pay, regardless of title. This is true for all types of pay, beginning with salary and including overtime, bonuses, insurance, vacation pay, and reimbursement for travel. When inequalities do exist, employers must bring up the lower pay range; they aren’t allowed to reduce the pay of those employees making more money.
A Brief History of the Equal Pay Act
The number of equal pay employers in the workplace today are the result of a lot of hard work. At the beginning of the 20th century, women were routinely paid less than men for doing the same work. As more women entered the workforce during World War II, the issue received a lot of notice, with efforts to correct the situation including policies endorsed by the National War Labor Board in 1942. Three years later, however, the Women’s Equal Pay Act was defeated in Congress.
Another twenty years later, a group of influential women brought the issue to national attention again. Esther Peterson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Katharine St. George, and Edith Green took another bill before Congress. This time the leaders of the bill faced off against the Retail Merchants Association and the Chamber of Commerce. In spite of that opposition, the Equal Pay Act became an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A Modern Application
What does this mean for workers today? It may be easy to believe that a battle for equal pay fought for twenty years would have been resolved more than fifty years later. However, women still earn less than men for the same work. Acts such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act are examples of ongoing efforts to bring equality to the workplace.
The Ongoing Problem
According to the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress, women in 2017 made 79 cents to every dollar made by a man. Of course, there are many factors complicating this situation. However, many equal pay employers are taking steps to decrease the pay gap. Some of these steps include providing on-site childcare, paid leave, normalization of flex work policies, increased accountability during performance reviews, payroll transparency, and evaluation of recruitment practices.
Benefits of Equal Pay
There are many benefits to encouraging equal pay for women and men, such as supporting single mothers who might otherwise have struggled to support their families as single breadwinners. Another benefit to equal pay employers is the chance to attract talented job seekers who may have skills equal to or greater than their male counterparts. Businesses with a reputation for pay equality have greater access to a larger number of talented applicants.
If you suspect violations of the Equal Pay Act, you can take your concerns directly to court within two years of the suspected violation. Contentment in the workplace leads to more productive workers and real-life trials prove equal pay is beneficial for both employees and employers.