In recent years the issue of the so-called “gender gap” in employee wages has, pardon the use of this word, “engendered” strong feeling on the part of the labor and business communities. Proponents of the gender gap theory maintain that the data is clear that women earn, on average, 79 cents per dollar that is received by their male counterparts. Critics of the theory argue that the comparisons employed in the analysis are not identical and that theory ignores other cultural factors. The Obama Administration has always been an advocate of the former.
This is why it should come as no surprise that President Obama on Friday unveiled new rules that would compel companies with more than 100 workers to provide the federal government annual data for how much they pay employees based on gender, race and ethnicity. The proposal, which covers over 63 million employees, is expected to be finalized by September, with the first reports due in the fall of 2017. Of course, given the fact that this is not an act of congress, it is susceptible to being overturned by President Obama’s successor when he or she takes office in January 2017 (we’ll let you all have the fun of speculating which candidates would and which would not).
If you are a covered employer, our advice would be to begin drafting a process wherein this information can be collected, if not readily available, and wait for further guidance come fall. At that time, we will revisit the regulations and talk about what will need to be done to ensure that your company does not run afoul of the regulations.