The Connecticut Department of Labor (CT DOL) recently released guidance on Public Act 21-30 (“the Act”), which requires CT employers to disclose wage ranges for vacant positions to current employees and applicants as of October 1, 2021. While the guidance is not binding, it provides useful insight into the CT DOL’s approach to the Act. This article provides an overview of the Act’s key employer requirements and CT DOL guidance.
The Act applies to any entities within CT using the services of one or more employees. The guidance clarifies that the Act only applies to employers located within the state.
The guidance clarifies that the Act covers applicants or employees who apply for, or work for, a CT employer, even if they work “outside the physical confines of the state.”
Notably, the CT DOLs interpretation covers applicants and employees who reside outside of CT but who are applying for remote work, or who work remotely for the covered CT employer. This broad interpretation that individuals located in other states are covered under the Act if they work exclusively for a CT employer may be later challenged in court. In the interim, employers are encouraged to consult with counsel if they are uncertain as to whether a specific job posting is covered by the Act.
Wage Range Disclosure Requirement
The Act generally prohibits an employer from refusing to provide job applicants with the range of compensation for the position they are applying for. Specifically, it is unlawful for CT employers to:
- Fail or refuse to provide an applicant for employment the wage range for a position for which the applicant is applying, upon the earliest of:
- the applicant’s request, or
- prior to or at the time the applicant is made an offer of compensation; or
- Fail or refuse to provide an employee the wage range for the employee’s position upon:
- the hiring of the employee;
- a change in the employee’s position with the employer; or
- the employee’s first request for a wage range.
The Act does not require employers to disclose the amount of compensation for any specific employee or for a position the applicant is not applying for. However, employers may not prohibit an employee from voluntarily disclosing or discussing their pay with another employee.
Wage Range Defined
The Act defines the term “wage range” as the “range of wages an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for a position, and may include reference to any applicable pay scale, previously determined range of wages for the position, actual range of wages for those employees currently holding comparable positions or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position.” The DOL guidance clarifies that the wage rage disclosure may include reference to:
- Any applicable pay scale;
- Any previously determined range of wages for the position;
- Actual range of wages for current employees holding comparable positions; or
- The amount budgeted by the employer for the position.
Amendment to CT’s Existing Equal Pay Law
The Act also amends the state’s existing equal pay law, which now provides that an employee alleging pay discrimination based on sex must prove that the employer pays employees of the opposite sex a lower wage for comparable work that requires comparable skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions. Employees no longer need to prove that the work or skill was equal.
The Act updates the types of bona-fide factors other than sex that employers are permitted to cite as a defense to claims of pay discrimination to include “credential, skill or geographic location.” This factor is in addition to the following existing factors:
- a seniority system;
- a merit system;
- a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
- a differential system based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience.
To comply with the requirements under the Act, CT employers are encouraged to:
- Educate their hiring and human resource staff about the requirements under the Act so they can respond to requests for pay range accordingly; and
- Periodically audit their pay equity practices for compensation-based decisions.
As a reminder, CT law already prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.