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Hawaii’s Trio of Pay Equity Updates

The new year brings three big changes to Hawaii’s pay equity efforts. The first two equal pay expansions are applicable to employers of all sizes, while the pay posting requirement only affects employers with 50 or more employees.

Equal Pay: Not Just for Men and Women Anymore

Equal pay is required across all protected categories covered by Hawaii’s employment discrimination statute, not just between the sexes. These categories include race, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions as well as gender identity or expression), sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, disability, marital status, arrest and court records, reproductive health decisions, or domestic or sexual violence victim status.

The acceptable reasons for a pay differential remains the same: a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, a bona fide occupational qualification, or a permissible factor other than the protected classes. Additionally, Hawaii’s law only requires equal pay for employees in the same establishment, so location would be an acceptable reason for a difference in pay.

Equal Pay: A Lower Standard for Comparison—Equal Work Is Not Required

Instead of requiring that employees or groups of employees be paid the same if they do “equal” work, the standard for equal pay will now be “substantially similar” work. This opens the door to significantly more comparisons (and potential claims), even across departments or job types.

Hourly Rate or Salary Range Required in Job Postings

Employers with 50 or more employees need to include the hourly rate or salary range in job postings. This doesn’t apply to internal transfers or promotions.

The rate or range posted needs to reasonably reflect the actual expected compensation. As an example, you might pay your project managers anywhere from $55,000–$150,000 depending on their level of experience and responsibility. If you know your project manager position will be filled by someone less experienced (and therefore less expensive), you should advertise the range you believe you’ll actually hire in, e.g., $55,000–$70,000, rather than advertising $55,000–$150,000. Aside from the fact that this is required, it benefits you by discouraging people from applying who ultimately wouldn’t accept your offer.

While the intent of the posting requirement is to promote pay equity and further close the wage gap, it benefits employers by streamlining your hiring processes and attracting more applicants.

HR Services Team
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