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IL & MS Equal Pay Updates

Illinois Department of Labor Answers Frequently Asked Questions About the Equal Pay Registration Certificate

This Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has added Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to their website to address questions about the Equal Pay Registration Certificate (EPRC) requirements. To learn more about EPRC requirements, refer to this prior blog post from HR Works.

The FAQs answer questions about which employers are required to obtain an EPRC, the application submission process, reporting data, certification, recertification, and the penalties for non-compliance. Key items addressed in the FAQs include the definition of wages, sharing of data with employees and the Illinois Department of Human Rights, determining the employee count when numbers of employees fluctuate and counting of remote workers who work outside of the state.

The IDOL intends to file additional regulations containing more comprehensive information about the Act’s amendments, which will be available for employers’ and others’ comments for a 45-day period after finalization.

Next Steps for Employers

As employers await the IDOL’s additional regulations, they are encouraged to review the FAQs for additional guidance on compliance requirements. While waiting, it is also recommended that employers consider conducting pay audits and begin gathering or ensure that they have the ability to gather the employee information that needs to be reported.

HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updated information as it become available.

Mississippi Becomes Enacts Equal Pay Law

Mississippi is the final state to enact an equal pay law. Through this enactment, every state now has a statute that prohibits employers from engaging in sex-based pay discrimination. The Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which takes effect July 1, 2022 and applies to employers with five or more employees.

Under the Act, a covered employer may not pay any full-time employee a wage less than it pays an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on a job requiring equal skill, education, effort and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions.

Exceptions apply to pay differentials based on:

  • A seniority system;
  • A merit system;
  • A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • Any other factor other than sex.

Interestingly, and unlike several other states, the law provides that an employee’s salary history, continuity of employment history and negotiation efforts will be considered factors “other than sex” which an employer may use to justify pay differentials.

The law contains a private right of action and protections against retaliation. Remedies may include back pay, attorney fees, interest and costs.

Next Steps for Employers

While use of prior salary history to determine pay may be considered a bona fide factor under Mississippi law, multistate employers must be mindful of any state and/or local laws that prohibit prior salary history to be used as a basis for setting current pay. As such, these employers may be better served by ensuring that reliance on prior pay not be a part of their compensation program, even in Mississippi.

It is recommended that employers conduct an internal audit of their pay practices using the assistance of a labor attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can offer valuable guidance on correcting pay disparities, the timing of making pay corrections, and how-to rollout the corrections. Additionally, for employers who discover pay disparities, there may also be the added benefit of communicating under attorney-client privilege where possible.

HR Works, headquartered in upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.