April 7, 2014
This week, President Obama will revisit the first law he signed as president, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, by issuing two executive orders aimed at ensuring equal pay for women and pay transparency, noted Politico. The first executive order will stop federal contractors from interfering with employee's rights to discuss their pay. The other will require federal contractors to report detailed salary data to the government. The President will also call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, an initiative meant to address the male-female income disparity in the United States.
President Obama plans to move forward with the wage discussion order on Tuesday, April 8th, which is "Equal Pay Day." The Obama administration hopes that the introduction of these new regulations will start a conversation about pay equality and fairness at a time when women earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
As Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel and co-chair of the National Paycheck Fairness Coalition, told the Los Angeles Times, the legislation "…is a huge victory for the one in five American workers employed by federal contractors." "Congress still needs to do its part" to pass legislation for other companies, "but we're one step closer to achieving pay equity thanks to this White House."
While many believe that the Obama administration's ideas on equal pay have merit, most Republican legislators believe that the proposed regulations would just heap more red tape and bureaucracy onto businesses.
"The 'Paycheck Fairness Act' doesn't provide paycheck fairness for women," Kirsten Kukowski, national press secretary for the Republican National Committee, told the Los Angeles Times. "In fact, it will cut flexibility in the workplace for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work, the very things that are important to us."
On the other hand, it's hard to ensure fair pay for women when women have no way of knowing how their paycheck compares to others doing similar work. And that's why government interference is necessary, a White House official told CNN. When businesses are allowed to retaliate against workers who share details about their pay, it can lead to unnecessary secrecy and unfairness. Unfortunately, that unfairness can go unnoticed for years.
"If women do not even know that they are underpaid, they cannot take steps to remedy the pay gap," the official stated. "For example, Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than her male co-workers for decades without realizing it until someone took a risk and slipped her an anonymous note."
The Obama administration hopes to remedy situations such as these and add a level of transparency when it comes to employee wages.
Compiled by Holly Johnson
"New Obama order to lead midterm equal pay push," Politico, April 7, 2014, Edward-Isaac Dovere, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/obama-equal-pay-push-105406.html
"Obama plans executive actions to boost equal pay for women," Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2014, Christi Parsons, http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-obama-equal-pay-women-20140406,0,5978671.story#axzz2yDCrXDqt
"White House to stress equal pay in policy, political push," CNN, April 6, 2014, Jim Acosta and Dan Merica, http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/06/white-house-to-stress-equal-pay-in-policy-political-push/