In an effort to create further pay equality for employees in Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law to ensure Washington employers are paying fairly and equitably.

This is the first update to the Equal Pay Act (EPA) in over 43 years. The new law takes effect June 8, 2018 and along with it will come a variety of new requirements and enforcement rules. Between now and June, employers should begin the process of analyzing their current pay structure and the practices used in hiring and promotions to ensure compliance.

Once in effect, the new EPA guidelines will prohibit any gender-based inequality based on compensation for employees jobs who are” similarly employed.”

Employees are considered to be similarly employed if their job and roles require similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and is performed under similar working conditions. Job titles alone are not to be used to make that determination.

An analysis, using bona fide factors, will be used to determine similarities. These favors are the following:

  • education, training, or experience;
  • a seniority system;
  • a merit system;
  • a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • a regional difference in compensation levels.

The idea that a hiring manager can use an employee’s past wage history to determine current salary level and compensation will no longer be a valid option as defined in this new law. Employees can not use that as a basis for salary determination and pay gaps can no longer be explained based on past compensation levels.

The new EPA also makes it illegal to reprimand an employee or require them to sign a non-disclosure preventing them from discussing their salary or compensation with others. This is a way to encourage transparency in the workplace.

It is strongly encouraged that all employers review their current compensation guidelines and business practices early on and uncover any potential risks or outliers, thereby taking appropriate steps to remedy any pay disparity between those similarly employed employees.