Closing the Wage Gap

(March 28) –House Democrats took two important steps forward to close the wage gap this morning. Fair Pay from the Start, HB16-1166, earned final approval from the House with a 34-31 party-line vote on third reading. The Pay Transparency Act, HB16-1156, was given voice-vote approval on second reading.

Fair Pay from the Start, sponsored by Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Faith Winter, gives employers a choice—they must post a salary range for any available position or they are prohibited from asking a candidate’s salary history. This ensures that women, minorities, and millennials who may have been underpaid in a previous position are able to enter salary negotiations based on qualifications and requirements, not on previous salary history.

“This bill is an important first step to achieve equal pay for equal work,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “This is not only important for women but millennials who started their careers during the Great Recession and started their salaries on unequal footing. Allowing potential employees to disclose their salary requirements and not their pay history ensures they will not be bound by past inequities.”

“Since this bill has been introduced, we’ve heard from women across the state about how they have been harmed by the perpetuation of low salaries,” said Rep. Winter, D-Westminster. “This bill ensures that when there is a pay gap, it is not perpetuated your entire life and your salary is based on experience, background and qualifications. We cannot wait while generations of women are being paid less than they deserve.”

The Pay Transparency Act, sponsored by Reps. Jessie Danielson and Joe Salazar, expands protection to all employees in the state who wish to discuss wages with their coworkers. Under current state law, some employers are exempt from the state prohibition of retaliation against employees who share wage information. This bill removes this exception so that the prohibition applies to all employers in the state.

“This is one more way to promote equal pay for equal work,” said Rep. Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge. “One way for employees to determine if they are being paid fairly is by talking to each other. This bill protects employees, upholds the right to free speech, and improves employee morale.”

“Employees should have the right to discuss their wages,” said Rep. Salazar, D-Thornton. “This bill allows municipal, county, and state employees to discuss their wages without fear of retaliation.”

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