California Passes New History-Making Equal Pay Law

By Katherine Muniz
October 8, 2015

On October 6th, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law the bipartisan California Fair Pay Act by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), which aims to close the wage gap between men and women.

The new law (SB 358) requires equal pay regardless of gender, for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” According to Brown’s office, the equal pay legislation is among the strongest in the nation.

Drafted as an amendment to California’s Equal Pay Act, Governor Brown commented that sixty-six years later, the wage gap between men and women continues to persist and that this bill is another step toward closing that gap.  The bill, which improves gender wage equality and boosts worker protections, prohibits employees from being reprimanded or facing negative retaliation for discussing their pay rates at work and allows workers to challenge wage discrepancies between employees doing similar jobs at different locations for the same employer.

Senator Jackson, Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, commented that “Today is a momentous day for California, and it is long overdue. Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California. After years of dealing with a persistent wage gap, and an equal pay law that has been on the books since 1949 but that is not as strong as it should be, the time is now for women’s paychecks to finally reflect their hard work and true value.”

Regarding employer exceptions, businesses can still legally pay wage differentials to different employees, provided that the differential is based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production, or some factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience. Essentially, employers must demonstrate that any wage differentials that exist have nothing to do with sex.

If you’re an employer in California, FingerCheck makes it easy to add and change rates for employees. In fact, all your rate information is stored within FingerCheck so you can manage how you pay employees with ease. Subscribe to the FingerCheck newsletter to get monthly updates on how our employee time clock software supports you during times of transition such as new legislation!

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