The Act is a law that ensures equal pay for comparable work for all Massachusetts employees. It will go into effect on July 1, 2018.
The Act covers all full-time, part-time, seasonal, per-diem, and temporary employees.
Under the Act you cannot seek an external candidate’s pay history unless one of the two following exceptions exist: (1) the external candidate voluntarily discloses his or her pay, or (2) an offer of employment with compensation has been made to the external candidate.
For example, if you are conducting an initial phone interview of a candidate and they voluntarily disclose what they are currently making, you can discuss the candidate’s pay in future conversations. As another example, if a candidate has not disclosed their pay and you make them an offer with stated compensation, and they say “that’s not even as much as I currently make,” you can then feel free to ask what their current pay is.
May I ask an internal candidate who is applying for another position within MIT about their salary history?
Yes. MIT already has this information so you can feel free to ask an internal candidate about their current or past pay. You can also discuss an internal candidate’s pay with your local HR professional or the Compensation Office.
May I pay an employee of one gender less in wages or salary than employees of a different gender based on his or her pay history?
No. The Act specifically provides that an employee’s previous wage or salary history may not be used in determining pay.
Yes. Nothing in the Act prohibits you from asking an external candidate about his or her compensation needs or expectations. However, you should proceed with caution when asking such questions and ensure that such questions are not framed or posed in a way that is intended to elicit information from the external candidate about his or her pay history. For example, you should avoid asking follow-up questions such as “what is that expectation or need based on” that may be reasonably likely to prompt the external candidate to disclose his or her pay history.
No. The Act specifically prohibits employers from requiring that an external candidate’s wage or salary history meet certain criteria.
No, you cannot prohibit employees from discussing either their own wages or their coworkers’ wages or from disclosing wage information to any person or entity. You can only prohibit those employees whose job responsibilities give them access to other employees’ compensation information from discussing wage information.
For example, you cannot reward a high performer with a pay increase and tell them not to tell anyone about the increase. You can, however, tell an HR professional who has access to payroll records that they cannot discuss wage information.
No. Retaliation is illegal. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise rights under MEPA including: formally or informally complaining or inquiring about an alleged violation of the law; communicating with any person, including coworkers, about any violation of the law; testifying or otherwise participating in an administrative or judicial investigation or other proceeding regarding an alleged violation of the law; or informing another person of that person’s potential rights under the law.
The Act requires that employees of different genders be paid equally for comparable work. What is “comparable work?”
The Act defines “comparable work” as work that requires substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions. It is unlawful under the Act to pay employees of different genders unequal wages for comparable work, unless a statutory exception applies (see the next question).
The Act permits differences in pay for comparable work only when based upon the following:
- a system that rewards seniority with the employer (provided, however, that time spent on leave due to a pregnancy-related condition and protected parental, family and medical leave, shall not reduce seniority);
- a merit system;
- a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue;
- the geographic location in which a job is performed;
- education, training or experience to the extent such factors are reasonably related to the particular job in question; or
- travel, if the travel is a regular and necessary condition of the particular job.
Not necessarily. A determination as to whether two jobs are “comparable” under the Act should focus on the skill, effort, and responsibility actually required to perform the jobs, irrespective of job titles or descriptions.
No. The Act only addresses the issue of pay equity between genders; however, MIT has a responsibility to ensure pay equity among other groups of people as well (e.g., MIT's Affirmative Action Program seeks to ensure pay equity between employees of different races and/or ethnicities).
“Wages” is defined broadly to include all forms of remuneration for work performed, including commissions, bonuses, profit sharing, paid personal time off, vacation and holiday pay, expense accounts, car and gas allowances, retirement plans, insurance, and other benefits, whether paid directly to the employee or to a third-party on the employee’s behalf.
Note: not all of these benefits are benefits at MIT; this is the definition in the law.
Can changes in the local labor market justify paying different wages to employees who perform comparable work?
No. Neither changes in the local labor market nor other market forces are included among the valid reasons for variations in pay enumerated in the statute.
You should talk to your department’s HR representative or contact MIT’s Compensation Office.
You should work with the HR professional within your area to determine equity within your organization. You or your HR representative should work with the Compensation Office to understand equity throughout the Institute.
Many (but not all) payroll categories have pay ranges. Pay ranges are broader than hiring ranges. Hiring ranges are helpful in narrowing the pay span that would realistically be considered for a position when recruiting.
Yes, we encourage you to include hiring ranges within your job postings. Hiring ranges will allow candidates to self-select whether they are a fit for the position.
You or the HR professional in your area should work with MIT’s Compensation professionals to determine an appropriate hiring range. MIT's Compensation professionals understand the pay levels within your department and across the Institute.
Budget is not a defense for pay disparities. Therefore, equity concerns need to be carefully considered before a job is posted and before an offer is made.
- Prominently post the position’s hiring range within the job posting;
- Inform all candidates of the hiring range during the initial phone interview;
- Ask them if the range is in line with their expectations.