Decisions regarding compensation for employees’ work generally fall to their employers. However, the federal Equal Pay Act institutes certain requirements with regard to how employers pay male and female workers in the same roles.
As an employer, understanding your obligations under the Equal Pay Act may help you protect your business and do right by those who work for you.
Equal pay for equal work
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Equal Pay Act prohibits you from paying workers different wages on the basis of sex. Thus, you must use the same pay scale, structure and determining factors in compensating male and female workers who perform jobs involving the following:
- Similar skill levels
- A significant portion of similar job tasks
- Similar accountability and responsibility
- Similar physical and mental requirements
Additionally, the act applies to your male and female workers who work under similar conditions at the same locations.
Exceptions to the rule
You may, under certain circumstances, pay workers of opposite sexes different rates for doing the same job. However, you must attribute the difference to reasons such as a merit system, incentive system, seniority system, or other factors based on employees and the quality of their work.
Consequences of violations
Employees who believe you violated the act with their pay may choose to take action against you. They may file a complaint with the EEOC, file a lawsuit against you or both. The repercussions of such actions may include, for example, facing sanctions from the EEOC or having to pay damages to employees who the court finds received discriminatory pay.