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Rhode Island Employers: Prepare for New Pay Equity Law in 2023

August 25, 2022

Attention Rhode Island employers…read up on the ocean state’s amended pay equity law. It is effective January 1, 2023. Here’s what you need to know.

Effective January 1, 2023, the state of Rhode Island will follow in the footsteps of many of the neighboring states by implementing an amended equal pay law. There are several factors within pay equity that will impact candidates and employees of companies doing business within the state. We have summarized the amended law for ease of understanding the new requirements.

  1. Wage Differentials- This prohibits wage differentials based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, disability, age, and country of ancestral origin for “comparable work”. Comparable work is defined as work that requires similar skill, efforts and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. Hybrid employees and employees living out of state, that have a primary place of work in RI are covered by this law.

    Exceptions for a differential in wages can be based on one or more of these factors:
    -A seniority system;
    -A merit system;
    -A system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production;
    -Reasonable shift differentials not based on sex;
    -Education, training or experience;
    -Regular or work-related travel; or
    -A bona fide and job-related factor consistent with business necessity.
    -Geographic locations with different costs of living;
    -Multi-state employers should ensure that employees within the same geographic area are paid equally for performing comparable work, unless excluding out of state employees from the analysis is not reasonable.

    For example, if the only employees performing work comparable to the work performed by a Rhode Island employee are located in another state, it may be necessary to compare the wages of those employees to ensure that they are paid equally (or that any disparities are justified under the law, including by the different geographic locations themselves).
  2. Wage History: This prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history and if voluntarily provided by the candidate, from using this information when considering the individual for a role.
  3. Pay Transparency: This is required or encouraged to post the four disclosures of wage information:
    -Required to provide applicants with a wage range for the role they applied for, when requested.
    -Should provide applicants with the wage range for the role that they are under consideration for prior to discussing compensation.
    -Required to provide employees when they are hired or moved into a new role, a wage range for that position.
    -Required to provide employees, when requested, the wage range for their position anytime during their employment.
  4. Safe harbor Affirmative Defense: If an employer voluntarily conducts a “good faith” audit of its pay practices to identify any potential violations and remedies any identified issues within 90 days. An evaluation form is available here.
  5. Anti-Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for discussing their wages.
  6. Posting Requirements: Employers must post the notice issued by the Department of Labor and Training explaining the rights of employees under the amended law.

Each employer doing business in the state of Rhode Island is encouraged to review the full act on the Department of Labor and Training’s website.

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