Municipalities are advised to review policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with updates to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act that took effect on July 1.

The equal pay law (Ch. 149, Sect. 105A), originally passed in 1945, prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s gender in the payment of wages for comparable work. Amendments enacted in 2016 broaden the definition of comparable work, permit the discussion of wages among employees, prohibit an employer from requesting or requiring compensation history, and provide for an affirmative defense to employers that conduct a good-faith self-evaluation of pay practices.

Employers may need to revise applications, handbooks, manuals and offer letters.

Employers should also communicate these changes to employees and conduct appropriate training, especially for employees who are involved in the hiring and onboarding process.

Municipalities may also perform an audit to identify any disparities in pay and to ensure that any disparities fall under one of the permissible exceptions listed in the statute.

Guidance and background from the Attorney General’s Office is available at www.mass.gov/massachusetts-equal-pay-law.

Written by Lisa Adams, Senior Legislative Analyst