One of the bigger issues in the United States today is the gender pay gap. In recent years, several states and cities have taken actions and steps to help ensure equal pay for women.
Most recently, New York City enacted a salary history inquiry ban
, which went into effect in late October 2017. Now New Jersey is the latest state to address the gender pay gap.
In March 2018, New Jersey passed legislation
that is intended to be one of the nation’s strongest pay equity laws. The bill is now headed to Governor Phil Murphy, who is a supporter of these laws and has said that he intends to sign it.
Let’s take a closer look at this legislation, what it means for New Jersey employees and employers, and what else is on the horizon in the Garden State.
Addressing the Pay Gap in New Jersey
When campaigning to be New Jersey’s next governor, Phil Murphy promised to make big changes to pay equity laws in the state.
When he took office in January, he began to deliver on those promises almost immediately. His first official action as Governor of New Jersey was signing an executive order
barring employers and managers from asking job seekers about their salary history.
As we have already mentioned, New York City passed a similar piece of legislation in late 2017 called a salary history ban. This law prevents employers in NYC from asking candidates about their job salary history.
Additionally, employers cannot use background checks or other means to uncover salary history information.
Proponents of salary history bans
say that not asking these types of questions will help to even the pay gap. This creates an environment where candidates are paid on the fair market value of a position, as opposed to what they were making in a previous job – the latter of which helps to create the wage gap.
Governor Murphy and New Jersey lawmakers saw the salary history ban as a great first step to preventing pay discrimination in the state. In early March, a bill that directly addressed salary history bans, and would prevent all employers from asking these questions to job seekers, was advanced.
Then in late March, New Jersey lawmakers took further actions in an attempt to strengthen state laws around pay discrimination.
Strengthening New Jersey Pay Equity Laws
On March 26, lawmakers in New Jersey voted on a new bill
aimed to boost pay-equity laws in the state. The bill was passed by the NJ Senate 35-0 and cleared the State Assembly 74 to 2. Now on its way to Governor Murphy’s desk, he has already hinted that he intends on signing the bill into law.
The new law would ban employers from offering different pay for jobs that entail very similar work. It would also amend current state law to make employers justify differing pay rates among their workers.
Employers would have to show that any difference in compensation is due only to factors such as seniority, experience, or education.
Additionally, the bill would allow discrimination victims to sue their employer for up to 6 years of back pay, where it used to be a cap of only two years. This would extend beyond just gender, and include any group covered under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.
New Jersey lawmakers are hoping this law, coupled with the salary history ban, will help to close the gender pay gap that exists in the state, especially among minorities.
Further Employment and HR Law Changes Are on the Horizon in New Jersey
In addition to a salary history ban and much stronger pay equity laws, the New Jersey assembly also advanced a bill on paid sick leave in March. The law would require employers to provide full and part-time workers paid sick leave.
Additional HR and employment-related legislation is expected over the coming year, as the new governor settles into office.
With the HR and employment law landscape more complex than ever before, business owners in New Jersey must stay up-to-date with these new bills, as well as any future legislation that may occur.
They can have significant impacts on employers, and failing to comply with them could result in significant penalties and fines.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your broker or an HR compliance expert for assistance if needed. Maintaining compliance in ever-changing federal, state, and local environments can be a challenge for small employers.
But HR partnerships can help overcome these issues, and assist with planning for future employment law changes that may impact a business.
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