Tuesday, April 8th President Obama signed an Executive Order increasing the minimum wage for federal worker’s to $10.10 per hour, requiring reporting of wages, and barring policies discouraging or prohibiting discussions amongst workers about wages. The directives, which were signed on National Equal Pay day, were aimed at improving the gender wage gap according to the Washington Post.
So what does this mean for your business?
No Retaliation for Discussion of Salaries
Firstly, the Executive Orders signed Tuesday only laid down mandates for federal workers, or companies engaging in federal contracts, but according to the Associative Press the order is expected to affect roughly 22 percent of the population. The order prohibits any retaliation on workers’ for discussion of salaries. Workplace retaliation generally has an interpretation that may be broader than you expect, and can constitute anything from managerial abuse to making the employee feel left out (Forbes, “12 Most Common Workplace Retaliations”). Although the order only affects federal contractors, it is a reminder of rules that already exist under the National Labor Relations Act..
Diminishing Gender Wage Gap
The second part of the President’s executive order is the requirement of federal contractors to report wages to the government, to ensure no unfair disparity based on race or sex. The reporting is expected to identify areas of unfairness. Even though the Tuesday rule only affects federal workers, employees treated unfairly in any US business can seek remedy through The Equal Pay Act.
Increased Minimum Wage
Much discussion has taken place lately about raising the minimum wage (in some places such as the city of Seattle to as much as $15.00 per hour). As part of the signed order on Tuesday starting in 2015 all federal contract workers are subject to a raised minimum wage level of $10.10. Signs of things to come? Too soon to tell, but check out your state’s requirement and keep your eye on the changing events by checking out U.S. Department of Labor.