One of the biggest challenges in organizations of all sizes is knowing the relevant employment laws, and understanding their complexities so the company stays in compliance and out of trouble. These laws are always changing, and new ones are always being introduced; and 2018 will be no different, with two major employment laws being rolled out in Massachusetts.
What are the New Laws Coming in 2018?
The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (MPWFA) is set to take effect on April 1, 2018, followed soon thereafter by the Massachusetts Pay Equity Act, rolling out on July 1, 2018.
What do these Laws Mean?
In a nutshell, the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure that pregnant workers or workers with pregnancy-related conditions (such as nursing) receive reasonable accommodations and protection from discrimination and retaliation under Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 151B.
The Massachusetts Pay Equity Act aims to close the gender gap and make it unlawful for Massachusetts employers to pay men and women different rates for "comparable work," allowing for equal opportunities to earn competitive salaries in the workplace.
What are the Keys to Compliance
Having a full understanding of what "pregnancy-related" conditions are, and understanding what "reasonable accommodation" really means will be critical to being in compliance with the MPWFA.
As for the Pay Equity Act, which essentially amends the current Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, it will be important to understand the three major elements of the law; comparable work, employer knowledge about job applicants' past wages, and employee discussions about personal wages.
Sounds Simple Enough, No?
Well, no. There are a lot of complexities in each of the new laws. Learning about these laws early and getting it correct from the start will save a lot of potentially-costly problems and headaches in the upcoming years. The old "ounce of prevention..." idiom applies here.
So what is an Employer to Do?
Alliant Human Resources recommends that all employers become familiar with these laws, and brush up on all the other relevant employment laws before the end of the year; review, revise, and create company policies and procedures to assure compliance; review and revise all paperwork and forms that relate to the new laws; update employee handbooks where necessary; and communicate the new laws to employees and managers, and hold training sessions.