Women’s rights advocates praised the Obama administration Thursday for finalizing a new rule that will allow federally contracted employees to openly discuss their pay with other employees.
The final rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees and job applicants who inquire about, discuss or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants.
In a statement, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said the rule is a key part of ending what President Kennedy called the “serious and endemic" problem of unequal wages.
“In order to detect and combat pay discrimination, employees must be able to share salary information with their coworkers without fear of punishment,” she said. “I constantly hear from women across the country that unequal pay continues to happen and is hard to uncover.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families said women who work full time, year round are paid, on average, just 78 cents for every dollar that’s paid to men.
“This harmful gap has remained largely unchanged for the past decade,” the partnership’s president, Debra Ness, said in a statement. “Coupled with the president’s paid sick days and paid family and medical leave announcement earlier this week, this rule is further evidence that the progress working families urgently need is possible.”
The rule, which takes effect in 120 days, comes from the Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information Executive Order President Obama signed in April 2014.
Contractors will be required to include the nondiscrimination provision in existing employee manuals and handbooks. While 98 percent of contracts maintain these records electronically, DOL said those that don’t will be required to prepare and print a single sheet to update their hardcopy manuals.
Total compliance is expected to cost $85 per contractor.