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HR Alert: New York Equal Pay Expansions

New York State has amended its pay equity laws in three significant ways. The first two changes outlined below take effect October 8, 2019, while the third change goes into effect early next year.

All Protected Classes Are Covered
Previously, the pay equity law only addressed equal pay between sexes. It now requires pay equity among all the following classes: age, race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, and domestic violence victim status.

Work Only Needs to Be Substantially Similar
Equal pay is no longer just for equal work—it’s also for substantially similar work, when viewed as a combination of skill, effort, and responsibility and when performed under similar working conditions in the same establishment. The exceptions to the rule still apply: employees doing substantially similar work can still make different rates of pay if the difference can be attributed to a system that recognizes seniority, merit, quantity, or quality, or another bona fide factor, such as education, training, or experience that is job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Salary History Is Off Limits
Beginning January 6, 2020, employers, employment agencies, recruiters, and anyone else connecting applicants with employers may not inquire about the wage or salary history of an applicant. This applies to internal applicants as well. Even if wage information is volunteered, it may not be used to screen an applicant in or out of the running (e.g., based on minimums or maximums) and it may not be used as a factor in determining how much to offer or pay the applicant at any time during employment.

The only exception is if the applicant has received an offer of employment that includes compensation and chooses to share their salary history to support a request for a higher wage; in this case, their prior salary may be verified.

Action Items
Now: If you haven’t reviewed employee compensation recently, now is the time. Compare employees doing substantially similar work to ensure that they are making the same amount, or that differences in pay are based on an acceptable system or factor.
By January 2020: Remove questions about salary history from employment applications. You can find a compliant application in the HR Support Center by searching for employment application.
By January 2020: Ensure that everyone involved in the hiring process—including any third parties—know not to ask applicants about their past or current wages.

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