At Work

Equal pay

  • A man and a women are hired into the same job, their starting salary is identical. It is now five years later and they are both doing the same job, should they still be earning the same salary?
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Categories: At Work, Observations on life

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  1. The CEO of Glassdoor, an online job site, recently noted on CNBC that when adjusting for all know variables such as geography, experience, etc… The pay “gap” was closer to 5%. To me, that is inconsequential, and frankly could be a simply explained by maternity leave (a woman may still have her job when she returns but she sure wasn’t making progress towards a promotion during maternity leave).

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  2. The American Progress article actually misdefines equal pay for equal work. It says: “These laws require that employers pay employees equally for performing equal work—meaning work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions—except in situations where the pay difference can be explained by permissible factors such as differences in seniority.”

    The law actually states: “No employer (subject to the law) … shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex [ . . . . ] ”

    A 2007 study by the Department of :Labor concludes, in part: ” … the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers. …”

    Interestingly, “equal work” is defined at 29 CFR 1620.13 – 1620.18 is very complicated, defined as:

    “… The equal work standard does not require that compared jobs be identical, only that they be substantially equal.”
    “… Application of the equal pay standard is not dependent on job classifications or titles but depends rather on actual job requirements and performance. …”
    “… What constitutes equal skill, equal effort, or equal responsibility cannot be precisely defined. … It should be kept in mind that “equal” does not mean “identical.” Insubstantial or minor differences in the degree or amount of skill, or effort, or responsibility required for the performance of jobs will not render the equal pay standard inapplicable. …”
    “The jobs to which the equal pay standard is applicable are jobs requiring equal skill in their performance.”
    “Where substantial differences exist in the amount or degree of effort required to be expended in the performance of jobs, the equal pay standard cannot apply even though the jobs may be equal in all other respects. Effort is concerned with the measurement of the physical or mental exertion needed for the performance of a job.”
    “The equal pay standard applies to jobs the performance of which requires equal responsibility.”
    “In order for the equal pay standard to apply, the jobs are required to be performed under similar working conditions.”

    To answer your question, no, generally speaking, one should probably be paid more than the other based on ANTICIPATED future job performance – so, either the woman should be paid more than the man, or the man should be paid more than the woman. I think it unusual to anticipate that the performance would be the same.

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    • I understand that there are a lot of variables to factor in, many variables which may be subjective. However, I find it interesting that, when comparing the pay of men versus women, in any job in which both have identical job descriptions, it is not unusual to see that men are earning more than women. What is accounting for this difference? Men, on average, perform better at most jobs than women? Or men are men and women are not?

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      • You do not factor in the variables. For example, simple tenure in the job, perhaps performance evaluations. And of course, it can go the other way as well. Surely, there exists some outright illegal discrimination, but that is not the cause of the much talked about 79% gender gap.

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  3. I believe there are exceptions. “Male registered nurses (RNs) make more than $5,000 per year than their female counterparts across most settings, specialty areas and positions, according to a UCSF-led study, and this earnings gap has not improved over the last three decades.” (UCSF Analysis) Also, based on my 30+ years nursing career, men ARE paid more at the starting gate and increase rapidly in both salary and management positions. However, at the major corporation where I now work, the rapid increase in management appears to be a phenomenon for the most vocal in the LGBT diversity group.

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  4. First you have to define these terms: equal, pay and work. Performance, absenteeism and training all have an affect the equation. We could spend hours on this but essentially who is assessing these attributes. The eye of the beholder will certainly come up with “measurable” differences.

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    • And that is exactly the point. Fairness demands that variables be considered, especially performance on the job and productivity. Those saying women earn 79% of what men earn and that it is discriminatory are plainly lying because they claim it is an absolute fact while they ignore nondiscriminatory variables.

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