An amendment to Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work Act takes effect on October 1, 2020, and affects compensation discussions and information for all private, state and local government employers in Maryland.
What Is Maryland’s Equal Pay For Equal Work Act?
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act expanded the rights of employees to receive equal pay regardless of sex. The law states an employer may not discriminate by paying a wage to employees of one sex or gender identity at a rate less than that paid to employees of another sex or gender identity if both employees work in the same establishment and perform comparable work. Under the law, employees work in the “same establishment” if they work for the same employer at workplaces located in the same county. Variations in wages are allowed when based on the following:
- A seniority or merit system that does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender identity;
- Jobs that require different abilities or skills;
- Jobs that require performance of different duties or services;
- Work that is performed on different shifts or at different times of the day;
- A system that measures performance based on quality or quantity of production; or
- A bona fide factor other than sex or gender identity including education, training or experience under certain circumstances.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act also provides that employers may not prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing or disclosing the employee’s wages. Employers may implement a written policy provided to each employee establishing reasonable workplace limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries relating to employee wages, as long as it is consistent with standards adopted by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry and all other state and federal laws.
Violations of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act can result in considerable civil penalties, compensatory and liquidated damages and attorney’s fees. The Act was amended October 1, 2019, to allow the Commission of Labor Licensing and Regulation to assess a civil penalty equal to 10% of the amount of damages owed by the employer against employers who have committed two or more violations of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act in the preceding three years.
How Will The Act Change On October 1?
The amendment will prohibit employers from seeking wage history information from an applicant or the applicant’s current or former employer. Employers are also prohibited from relying on wage history when screening applicants, considering applicants for employment or setting their initial compensation. If an applicant voluntarily provides an employer with wage history information to support the employer providing compensation higher than the employer’s original offer, once the employer makes an offer that includes a compensation offer, the employer may seek to confirm and rely on the wage history provided.
The amendment also requires employers to give job applicants, upon request, “the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied.”
Takeaway For Maryland Employers
Maryland employers should take the following steps to ensure compliance with the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and amendment:
- Ensure no policy or procedure exists prohibiting the discussion of wages among employees.
- Create salary ranges for all positions.
- Ensure the application does not ask for wage history information.
- Educate managers and hiring personnel on the new restrictions during the hiring process.
Ask Smart HR
Smart HR consultants must stay abreast of ever-changing employment laws to ensure their clients are in compliance and avoid hefty penalties and possible litigation. Unless you have personnel dedicated to following employment law, it Is easy to miss a change like found in Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act amendment. Our consultants have the resources to stay current with employment laws and take a proactive approach to implementing necessary changes to current policies and practices when necessitated by employment laws. For peace of mind, call Smart HR today.