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Legislation aims to address gender pay gap

Nationally, women’s median weekly earnings are $891 versus men’s median weekly earnings of $1,082. That translate to women earning 82 cents for each dollar men earn.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Proposed legislation would address the gender pay gap in Pennsylvania by requiring businesses to disclose pay ranges in job postings.

HB 346 would require employers with 15 or more workers to disclose a pay range for each position posted. Where there is no pay range, the employer would need to post the minimum rate of pay. Additionally, employers would be required to furnish written lists of positions within the organization with similar pay ranges.

“This way when someone is applying for a job, they’re able to know what the pay range is, what the expectations are, so we’re not wasting time for employers or potential employees,” said State Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia), who proposed the legislation.

Nationally, women’s median weekly earnings are $891 versus men’s median weekly earnings of $1,082. That translate to women earning 82 cents for each dollar men earn, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Pennsylvania, the ratio falls to women earning 79 cents for each dollar men earn, according to U.S. Census data.

That variance is due to multiple factors, including choice of occupation, hours worked and years of experience. But gender-based pay discrimination does still happen.

“There’s a need for this to make sure that there is equal opportunity for both men and women applying for jobs,” Isaacson said.

This is the second time in two years that State Rep. Mary Isaacson has introduced the measure. The last version, introduced in 2019, never left committee.

Isaacson expects continued opposition but wanted to keep the issue in the spotlight.

“All legislation, when you introduce it, begin a conversation. And I look forward to having that conversation,” she said.

Business advocates have argued pay range disclosure requirements could hurt companies by giving employees too much leverage in negotiating their pay.

Providing an accurate pay range could also be difficult to implement.

“It’s hard to envision businesses being supportive of it,” said Andrea Kirshenbaum, chair of the employment and labor practice group at Philadelphia-based law firm Post & Schell.

But the measure would likely stand up against legal challenges, Kirshenbaum said.

“There may certainly be legal challenges, but I can’t see a legal basis to prevent the law from passing,” she said.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order in 2018 requiring state government agencies to post pay ranges in job postings. Agencies also cannot ask applicants about current or past compensation.

A similar law went into effect in Philadelphia in 2020 banning employers from asking applicants about their pay history.

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