New tool provides update on labor laws

Aug 14, 2019
Written by Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services

Considering the passage of 11 state employment laws during the 2018-19 legislative sessions, businesses with employees in Washington State will do well to scrutinize and update their hiring, payroll, and employment practices.

Washington Retail is particularly concerned that small retailers with limited human resource personnel may be at risk for not knowing all the new requirements. With their pain point in mind, we are providing our members with a two-sheet summary of these laws as an overview tool to support compliance. Please contact Terry Hopsecger to inquire about this tool and other membership benefits we offer.

One of the most significant new laws replaces the Equal Pay Act with the Equal Pay and Opportunity Act (EPOA) to protect employees from pay and career advancement discrimination based on gender.

Differences in pay and career advancement are allowed if they are based on training or experience; seniority; merit/quality of work; productivity; regional differences in compensation and/or local minimum wage variation. All these factors should be well documented in each staff member’s personnel file. Better yet, developing a pay scale based on these acceptable reasons will likely be the best defense.

Interestingly, both Michigan and Wisconsin bucked the trend to ban salary history bans, but these bans could be superseded by the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act proposed in Congress now.

Due to the growing number of states and cities adopting different versions of an equal pay law, human resource experts recommend adopting a broad policy of compensation transparency and salary-negotiation practice that transcends state boundaries. In today’s competitive workforce environment, smart employers will do well to focus conversations with candidates on their salary expectations rather than salary history, giving attention to job seekers’ quality and experience and place salary ranges in job advertisements to attract qualified applicants.

We welcome your inquiries and sharing of best practices. Please reach me at  [email protected] or 360-200-6452.