Legislature passes Sen. Breen's pay equality bill on National Equal Pay Day
AUGUSTA — The Maine Legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, to promote pay equality on Monday, April 2. LD 278, “An Act Regarding Pay Equality,” promotes pay equality by discouraging employers from basing wages on an employee’s salary history. The vote was 22-11 in the Senate and 86-54 in the House.
“Equal pay day is about recognizing women’s worth and paying women what they deserve. Each year that passes by, the wage gap continues to hurt Maine women, children, and our economy,” said Sen. Breen. “By encouraging employers to base salaries on market rates, skill, experience, educational background, or prior job performance, we can reverse this trend, promote fair wages and save tax dollars in the long-run.”
This bill prohibits employers from asking about or using prior wage or salary information until after an offer of employment has been made by an employer. Research shows that men with a bachelor’s degree make on average 20 percent more than their female classmates after just one year of employment. As a result, employers with good intentions can perpetuate the wage gap by basing wages on salary history instead of experience and qualifications.
“Economic security for women is critical to ensuring families are thriving,” said Speaker Sara Gideon. “And for Maine’s economy to thrive, we need to make sure that women are being paid the same as men for the same work. All workers deserve to be paid based on their abilities, not their previous salary—that’s what this bill aims to fix.”
National Equal Pay Day represents the date when the median wage for American women will have caught up with the median wage for American men from the previous year. In the U.S., the average woman has to work 15 months to earn what the average man earned in 2018 for 12 months of work.
In Maine, women make 82 cents for every dollar men make. Nationally, research from the National Partnership for Women and Families reveals women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. The end result is an average annual loss of $10,000 in earned wages.
LD 278 will now head to the governor, who has 10 days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.