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Transparency trend: US and UK governments look to set laws on pay

(FINANCE) US states such as CO, CA, and NY have been some of the first to work toward pay gap and transparency laws. The UK is now not far behind!

Man and woman back to back representingpay gap between genders and salary transparency.

It’s long been thought of as taboo to talk about salary in the workplace, but it’s time to cut the bullshit. Not talking about salary at work is an antiquated technique to keep employees in line and, frankly, a channel to not pay people fairly. Now, the United Kingdom is joining the fight for more salary transparency, a mission already underway in some places in the United States.

In 2020, Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect. It requires employers who employ even one Colorado resident — including remotely — to post salary ranges on job postings.

Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, signed a similar law in April 2022. Under that law, companies with more than 15 employees are required to post salary ranges, benefits, and other compensation. This law goes into effect at the start of 2023.

In California, employers are required to share a position’s salary range, but only if a prospective employee asks. To go one step further, in early 2022, a state senator introduced a bill to require salary ranges to be posted and employee pay data to be public.

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New York City’s stab at the same efforts goes into effect next month.

The United Kingdom is drawing a line in the sand on more salary transparency too. On International Women’s Day, the British government announced a plan that “will seek to improve pay transparency in the job application process and help businesses who want to go even further in attracting women to their positions.”

The new push from the U.K. is not new a territory. In 2017, the U.K. passed a law that required companies with more than 250 employees to publish annual gender pay gap reports.

Statistics show women earn $.82 to men’s $1 with women of color earning even less. A study cited in The Guardian shows only 21% of women in the U.K. who ask for a raise are successful. For men that number is, obviously, higher at 31%.

Increasing pay transparency can help close that gap as companies will more than likely come under fire after releasing pay gap data. The efforts to hold companies accountable for pay gaps also made headlines on International Women’s Day alongside the U.K. announcement.

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On March 8, the Twitter account @PayGapApp went viral for sharing pay disparities to business accounts that posted about the holiday, based on the data provided by that previous 2017 British law.

Francesca Lawson and her partner created the Twitter account to “put the gender pay gap data back into the spotlight.”

“Our aim was to highlight how photos of smiling female employees and inspirational quotes conceal what’s really going on behind the scenes,” Lawson wrote in an article.

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At the time of publication, the account has more than 250,000 followers. I guess, if there’s one thing the hellscape of Twitter is good for, it is to keep people accountable.

Different companies have responded in different ways to the slew of laws pushing for pay transparency.

After the Colorado law passed, some companies that posted remote jobs barred Colorado residents from applying, including the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.

As Axios reports, California and New York City may not be as successful if they follow Colorado’s steps with a large amount of in-demand jobs based there. However, some NYC council members are attempting to stop or postpone the law.

Time will tell if these measures actually close the gender pay gap, but for now, go ahead and chat about your salary at the water cooler you may be happy you did.

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With nearly a decade of writing experience Dewey can’t stay away from the addictive quality of words, an addiction that rivals his constant need to share his opinion (he’s a Gemini). When he’s not working, writing or doom scrolling Twitter, you can find him on one of Austin’s many beautiful hiking trails or tucked away in a dimly-lit speakeasy. Oh, yeah, and he hates the Oxford comma.

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