Proposed law lets you peek at colleagues' paychecks

The Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to create equal compensation for men and women, but has far greater potential.

By Jason Notte Feb 1, 2013 4:35PM
Pay check stub showing taxes withheld -- Comstock, Comstock, Getty ImagesEver want to know what your co-workers make or brag about your own ample paycheck? You may get your chance.


Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation last week that would not only require require employers to prove that differences in pay among workers are unrelated to gender or any other qualities unrelated to their employment, but keep companies from punishing workers who discuss salary information.


The proposed Paycheck Fairness Act was presented as an equal rights issue by Mikulski on the Senate floor Wednesday, but its passage would have implications far greater than shattering glass ceilings.


While the Paycheck Fairness Act is viewed as a logical extension of the Lilly Ledbetter Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009 to combat pay discrimination, it's also an endorsement of an open pay model that levels the playing field for employees by making payroll decisions public. That would affect everyone involved, including the folks doling out the checks.


Sure, the act would let women find out if their male colleagues make more than they do, but it would also give everybody else some idea of how they're faring in the rat race. According to the Wall Street Journal, startup company SumAll took some stress off of its employees by adopting an open pay system. Namaste Solar, meanwhile, told Business Insider that the open model increases pressure on companies to justify pay raises for specific employees.


Open pay has been a subject of debate since at least the mid-1980s, when University of Texas at El Paso professor William H. Muhs noted that 60% of employers favored keeping payrolls secret. As he discovered, that secrecy tends to make employees think the pay system is unfair whether it is or not. Unfortunately, it's also the stucco that masks intrinsic flaws in the employee evaluation process.


Those flaws are exactly what troubled Mikulski and DeLauro into drafting their legislation in the first place. A 2011 study from the Institute For Women's Policy research found that women, on average, make 82% of what their male counterparts make. At the same time, nearly half are either not allowed or are strongly discouraged by their employers from discussing pay information with coworkers.


While the Paycheck Fairness Act may not bring immediate pay equality, it's a big step toward keeping the workplace honest.


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32Comments
Feb 1, 2013 4:51PM
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  Look, people.  Walmart isn't where it is because Americans like quality.  From the beginning they lied about domestic content but people believed it because they wanted cheap.  If Macy's was doing the volume Walmart is this argument would be over.  But the truth, whether you like it from a ceo or not, is that Americans built Walmart because they sell cheap crap.  And they carry major brands because they beat the snot out of the suppliers.  Outside of Bentonville, suppliers admit they do business with Walmart because they have to, not because they want to.  Sam Walton didn't do anything that Sears didn't do years before him
  Take a look at your finances and then understand that the general rule of thumb is that it only takes 10% more to go first-class.  We sold our souls to China for 10%.

Feb 4, 2013 12:26AM
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I came to US from China 20 some years ago.  Since then, the US is moving toward China; and China is moving toward the US.  I think we are at the point or close to the point that the US is more communism than China.  Unfortunately, I am too old to move back to China.
Feb 4, 2013 12:19AM
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I would guess that most HR departments will find themselves in an almost daily battle of justifying employee's earnings and in many cases the same employee over and over again. For years a major complaint was that I 've been with the company for years and years and they start some new employee at more than what I make? That's where this could go. It goes to far more than gender equality. It's a Pandora's box, once opened, there's no telling where it'll go.
Feb 3, 2013 11:02PM
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Since when is it anyones business what i make except for myself and my employers. If you get to know what I make then I get to see every purchase you make so i can see that i do not get overcharged for something. Maybe I get to see every loan you have so i make sure i am paying the same rate as you. Maybe I need to see the inside of your house to see if you have something i don't so i can have the same thing as you. These 2 so called senators need to open up their doors and checking accounts to let everyone know how much money they have to see if they really need the money they get from the tax payer. If they really don't need it why pay them. Its elected officials like that make me want to move to another country, But my people were here before anyone else. So we will wait for the british to come back and wipe the peoples socialist party of the united states out. Oh sorry thats who started this in the first place.
Feb 3, 2013 1:27AM
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No! The personal pay check is that- Personal. There shouldn't be any discussion concerning making it an your personal paycheck an open document.  There can be guide lines of employees compensation of hourly, monthly, and/or yearly that can be opened, but your personal information never should be up for sale, study, or research. That is your information and your information only. If you work for a public office i.e. President, Congress, Mayor for which we, the voters, are voting on raises, then those are the only paychecks that should be open for discussion . Recommended reading: The freedom of information act, The right for privacy,
Feb 4, 2013 12:43AM
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    First off women make 80% of what men do...I wonder if this has anything at all to do with the fact (not to be sexist) that women get pregnant and leave the workplace for an excess of a year every time this happens.  Do I get to leave work for a year come back and expect to "earn" the same raise as the person next to me that has been an asset for "company A" for the past year? No.  This being said I feel that equality while may not be perfectly achieved, but it is closer than it has ever been, and disclosing what everyone makes will only create animosity amongst workers.  This will disrupt cohesion and ultimately productivity, quite frankly this is a joke.
Feb 4, 2013 9:28AM
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This is all these people have to do? Fix the Debt!
Feb 2, 2013 3:37PM
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MORE OBAMA SOCIALISM AND LESS PRIVACY AND FREEDOM FOR ALL! WHEN IS HE GOING TO BE IMPEACHED?
Feb 1, 2013 5:26PM
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Who really gives a $hit, next week it will be under 10,000, what a farce.
Feb 5, 2013 5:03PM
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ACCIDENT-PRUNE - OMG, Nice try NOT being sexist, but your written word tells otherwise !  Who gets off for a year in US ????  Canada - yes,  Europe - yes.  Wish the US employers would take a bold stance and recognize what a joyful time this is, reward them with MORE non pressure time off, and recognize the difficulties families have.  Lived and worked in Europe, saw it firsthand, perhaps 2 much time off there, but DEFINITELY TOO SHORT time of here!!!!!!  Morale and motivation would go thru roof over what, a bit more creative work planning by lazy **** HR folks (who are useless IMHO as a user of their services when I hire, and also speaking with them when applying for jobs and asking for honest feedback!!!!)  CERTAINLY all women in general should not get an 18% cut in pay just because 33% might want to have a baby at some point in time.  That is ridiculous to suggest, yet that is what you say and try to justify !!!!!  I can't be silent here.....
Feb 4, 2013 5:45PM
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10%more to go first class?  Not on an airplane!
Feb 1, 2013 5:47PM
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With so many Americans now scrapping by in the midst of blue collar worker wage assaults, most "working Americans" can no longer afford to shop outside of discount places or the dreaded likes of Walmart so this guy isn't see the big picture ! 
Feb 4, 2013 10:17AM
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Seems to me this is wrong... although most of my employees are discussing amongst themselves how much they make and at the same time guessing how much others are making. In most cases they use this as problematic that some one is making as much or more than I am and I been here longer or do more. The government really does not think about the further issues that arise when they make these bills up. We make sure or at least we make sure that employees do make discussions amongst themselves about pay, it causes issues. Now we do let all employees see where they fit, in other words there is Min/Med/Max pay scale that each fit in but what is shown is not what each makes. Its a starting scale. This goes beyond privacy also, pay is private... however if a woman is paid different than men in their respected fields, then they should be able to discuss this with their employers, other wise stay out of the issues and creating problems that we should be taking care of.
Feb 5, 2013 6:10PM
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I work at a job have been for 15yrs whenever my boss hires any one new,  fresh graduates or experienced they get  started at the same salary I am presently making. I have not had a raise in 3 years and the last raises I have had were usually 3% ----to cover the cost of insurance increase(s)

In my department there are 15 employees all doing the same job. I am 3rd from the top on seniority, newest employee has been with us 3 yrs.,black,  single mom of 1,  in late 20's and graduated 5 yrs. ago.

I was a stay at home of 4, now 32, 28, 26 and 25 the best years of my life!  All college graduates one with a masters , another teaching in public school and working on her masters

 My husband worked for insurance, we did then and we do now are a farm family.

Both my husband and I are college graduates. I knew I would be returning to the workplace, but in my field and in my area jobs were not abundant.

I don't believe you should HAVE to "ask" or to "negotiate" for a pay raise it should be the EMPLOYER/OWNER/BOARD OF DIRECTORS responsibitly based on job performance, cost of living, dedication, responsibitly, apptitude, if they have furthered their education, temperment, expectations location of job.  Not sure how I feel about being nickel and dimed  to death on raises, but sometimes something is better than nothing! I love my job and what I do.

 

Feb 3, 2013 1:17PM
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Hey isWalmartblahblahblah.  Why don't you put a cigar in that pie-hole and change your fatigues, they probably need it.

Feb 2, 2013 11:33PM
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Fascists call Obama Socialist.

Fascists HATE Socialists.

I'm a socialist.

Obama is NO WHERE near a Socialist. I can make a strong case for Obama being a Republican-lite capitalist far better than you can make a case for calling him Socialist.

Obama is not a Socialist. Not even close.

I wish he were.

Feb 3, 2013 1:39AM
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This legislation will enable YOU to much more effectively negotiate future pay raises when you ask for a raise etc.

When employees know what other employees are paid it makes for an effective bargaining chip for YOU when you ask for a pay raise. This legislation is long overdue and very necessary for protecting our middle class from Republican Fascism which seeks to KILL America's middle class with wage-busting and job outsourcing etc.

Imbeciles oppose this legislation at the peril of their own livelihoods.

Feb 2, 2013 11:45PM
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Remember, Capitalism ALWAYS needs to turn to Socialism for bailouts.

Communist China has spent the past 32 years bailing out American Capitalism.

American capitalism is so weak that it has been dependent on China for funding for the past 32 years, to the tune of about $16 Trillion in debt. Chinese Communism can fund its own massive government as well as funding America's massive 'defense' budget.

Rethug Ronald Ray-gun made America dependent on Chinese Communist cash.

Democrat Bill Clinton broke the addiction/dependency by balancing our budgets, creating surpluses, and paying down our national debt. Then we elected another Ray-gun Rethug, the idiot Bush, in 2000 and again in '04.

Bush Republicanism re-addicted America to Chinese Commy cash and once agaiun proved that capitalism is a weakness and Communism is much stronger.

Strong enough to fund China and America.

America dies without this Chinese cash lifeline created by Ray-gun/Bush/Republican fiscally reckless policy.

Thank Communism. Without it America dies.

It's the strongest indictment against the weakness of capitalism.

Capitalism has damned America to death.

Feb 3, 2013 1:42AM
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Not knowing how much your co-workers are paid is a WAGE-BUSTING strategy used by FASCIST wage-busting employers.

Keep you in the dark keeps you low paid.

Imbeciles oppose this legislation.

Feb 2, 2013 11:26PM
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Republican Fascism has long declared war to KILL the entire middle class and the expectation of a fair, decent wage for a fair days work.

Women and people of color are paid far less than white males.

Any company that pays its white male workers more than its non-white male workers deserves to be sued back to the stone age. Its company leaders should also be locked up in prison for a very long time.

I can't think of more necessary legislation than this Paycheck Fairness Act. Long overdue.

ALL employers need to be transparent with their payroll policies. The history in America of paying non-whites and women far less than white males mandates the need for passage of said law.

America also needs to incriminate the practice of paying non-whites and women less and throw the Fascists that practice pay discrimination in jail.

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