– Legislation that seeks to ensure the Commonwealth’s laws are fair and working with respect to equal pay for women passed the House Labor and Industry Committee today, said Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks), author of the proposal.
House Resolution 75
, which now heads to the House floor for consideration, would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the issue of workplace pay disparity, to re-examine existing federal and state laws regarding pay equity and to make any necessary recommendations.
“The issue of pay equity stretches across every type of wage, either hourly or salary, and includes positions ranging from service workers to professionals with advanced degrees,” said Watson, who has championed this issue for a number of years. “Not only does this disparity effect a woman’s paycheck, but it also follows her throughout her life, as pension and Social Security benefits are based on pay earned while working.”
According to the 2013 Census Bureau data, women statewide average 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and a study by the American Association of University Women found that among people hired in their first year after college, women in 2009 were paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men.
Watson stressed that these statistics take into account women with the same education, credentialing and experience as their male counterparts.
“Pay equity does not mandate across-the-board salaries for any occupation, nor does it tamper with supply and demand,” Watson continued. “It merely means that wages and salaries must be based on job requirements like skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions without consideration of race, sex or ethnicity.”
The state’s Equal Pay Law, enacted in 1959, provided a foundation for Pennsylvania women seeking opportunities in the workplace. The goal is fair compensation for all workers without wage discrimination. Other laws to be examined include the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This legislation mirrors federal efforts that call for enhanced enforcement of equal pay laws as well as additional policy initiatives and improved training for government agencies charged with enforcing equal pay requirements under the law.
Watson acknowledged some headway in the fight. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women’s earnings were 78.3 percent of men’s in 2013, compared to 76.5 percent in 2012. In Pennsylvania in 2013, the median pay for a woman working full time, year round, was $38,368 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man was $50,231, a yearly gap of $11,683 between full-time working men and full-time working women.
A similar resolution passed the House last session but didn’t clear the state Senate.
Representative Kathy Watson
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton