Feds poised to act on CEO pay

A rule requiring public companies to disclose how much their chief executives are paid compared to average workers will be issued “in the near future,” according to the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“I hope that it is completed in the next month or two,” Mary Jo White said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“We are very much as a staff and commission focused on that rule-making.”

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The rule was ordered under the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, but has yet to be issued by the SEC. Democrats and union leaders who back the rule say it would help workers negotiate their salary and expose patterns of income inequality.

Business groups have opposed the requirement as overly burdensome. They worry that the SEC's rule could have unintended consequences and end up hurting companies by diverting money and resources to calculate the total benefits, overtime and other pay measures for all workers.

They also argue investors aren't interested in knowing how much a CEO makes when compared to an average employee because it provides little information about the overall health of a company.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote the provision in the Dodd-Frank law calling for the rule, and he pressed White about its status on Tuesday.

“I’ve been waiting for several years now,” he told White. “It precedes you, but heavy is the head that wears the crown right now.”

In June, the House Financial Services Committee advanced a bill that would repeal the pay ratio provision of the Dodd-Frank law.

According to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, CEOs in 2012 were paid an average of 273 times more than a typical employee.