Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”) took effect on July 1, 2018. As we have reported in previous Advisors, the revised statute expands the concept of “equal pay for equal work” to a “comparable worth” model that requires equal pay for jobs
that are deemed comparable because they require substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions.
Different pay is allowed in comparable jobs only where the pay differences are related to seniority, merit, productivity, experience, job-related education and training, work location and required travel. The Attorney General has issued guidance and a spreadsheet to help employers perform a self-evaluation. The self-evaluation, if sufficiently comprehensive, acts as a safe harbor to liability as long as the employer is taking reasonable steps to remediate any gender related pay discrepancies revealed by the evaluation.
The statute also prohibits employers from asking candidates about pay history, and prohibits employers from restricting employee communications about their own wages. Massachusetts employers should consider conducting the evaluation every three years to avoid getting caught up in what is likely to become a popular area of the law among employee advocates.