PART I: Introducing the Commonwealth’s New Wage Equality Law
On August 1, 2016, Governor Baker signed into law An Act to Establish Pay Equity (the “Act”). The Act goes into effect on July 1, 2018. The Act prohibits discrimination in payment of wages on the basis of gender. The article below is the first in our series of articles examining the Act and how it will impact businesses and employers throughout the Commonwealth.
The Act states that “No employer shall discriminate in any way on the basis of gender in the payment of wages, or pay any person in its employ a salary or wage rate less than the rates paid to its employees of a different gender for comparable work.” In our next article, we will provide a detailed overview of how the Act defines “comparable work” and “wage rates”. Before exploring those issues, however, it is necessary to first examine whether the Act applies to your business and which employees fall under its provisions.
Generally, the Act applies to nearly all employers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Act covers both private and public employers (including state and municipal government units which are employers), regardless of the size of the employer. Federal government employers are not subject to the Act.
Furthermore, the Act applies to all employees with a “primary place of work in Massachusetts.” The phrase “primary place of work in Massachusetts” is further defined in the Attorney General’s official guidelines (hereinafter the “Guidelines). The Guidelines state that an employee’s primary place of work is the location where the employee performs most of the work for the employer. For example, the Guidelines state that an employee who visits various offices (both inside and outside Massachusetts) would have a Massachusetts primary place of work if the employee spends a plurality of her time in the Commonwealth. Likewise, an employee who telecommutes to a Massachusetts worksite would also be considered as having a Massachusetts primary place of work. If an employee permanently relocates to Massachusetts, the employee’s primary place of work will be Massachusetts on the first date of actual work in Massachusetts. Notably, an employee is NOT required to work at least 50% of their time in Massachusetts to be considered as having a Massachusetts primary place of work.
Please read the second installment in our series titled Part II: What is Comparable Work? If you have questions about the Act and whether it applies to your business or employees, please contact Attorney Michael P. Doherty, Andrew M. Kepple or one of our other employment attorneys at 508 541-3000.