Massachusetts jobseekers could get more information about what their future paychecks would look like under a bill the state House of Representatives passed Wednesday.
Pitched as a way to help further combat racial and gender pay gaps, the bill would require businesses in the state with at least 25 employees to list a position's salary or wage range in their job postings.
“We know that across sectors, women and particularly women of color, continue to make less than what white men make,” said Rep. Hannah Kane, a Shrewsbury Republican and House chair of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators. “Knowing a salary range while applying to new positions is an important tool to narrow these gender and racial gaps by giving applicants more mechanisms to understand and negotiate for the wages that they deserve.”
The bill would also require businesses with at least 100 workers to report wage and demographic information to state labor officials, who would then publish aggregate data online.
Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley, a Mattapan Democrat, said that data collection “will give us further insight into the disparities being experienced that will lead to tailored, equitable solutions targeting those who need them the most.”
The House's 148-8 vote sends the bill to the state Senate, where the principles behind it have significant support. More than half of the 40-seat Senate cosponsored earlier versions of the legislation.
“Knowing a salary range while applying to new positions is an important tool to narrow these gender and racial gaps.”Rep. Hannah Kane, a Shrewsbury Republican
Representatives said the bill builds on a 2016 pay equity law that, among other measures, banned employers from asking about job applicants’ salary history. If the new legislation wins approval from the Senate and Gov. Maura Healey, Massachusetts would join the ranks of 10 other states that have salary range requirements for job postings or the hiring process, Rep. Josh Cutler said.
He and Fluker Oakley filed one of the original versions of the bill, and Cutler co-chairs the committee that produced a reworked version ahead of Wednesday's vote. He credited the Wage Equity Now coalition — made up of labor unions, philanthropic organizations, businesses, women's groups, racial justice advocates and other organizations — with creating momentum behind the bill, and thanked business leaders who came to the table to forge "a bill that will benefit both employees and employers."
Brooke Thomson, president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, called the bill "a fantastic compromise" and said it could help Massachusetts compete against other states by showcasing a commitment to attracting and retaining diverse talent.
Boosting the state's competitiveness has been a key talking point for Healey, who pointed to that idea earlier Wednesday while signing into law a tax reform package that includes breaks for both businesses and families.
"In a post-COVID world, when employees can sometimes live in a different place than where they work, Massachusetts has to take steps to say, 'OK, this is why you want to come here and work for a Massachusetts employer. If you're a business, this is why you want to grow your business in Massachusetts,'" Thomson told GBH News. "And this bill will do that. It will say, 'Hey, employees, you're going to be treated fairly. You're going to get an equitable wage.'"
Lawmakers have dubbed the bill the “Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act,” in honor of the Massachusetts native who became the first woman to serve in a presidential Cabinet when Franklin Delano Roosevelt tapped her as labor secretary in 1933.