Politics

White House to shrink gender pay gap for federal employees

The White House will announce Tuesday a series of steps aimed at ending the gender pay gap for federal contract workers.

The moves, which will occur on Equal Pay Day, will be announced at a White House virtual event that includes President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, CEOs, and current and former members of the U.S. national soccer team.

Mr. Biden will sign an executive order encouraging the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about job applicants’ salary histories.

He also will unveil a Labor Department directive clarifying that federal contractors are expected to conduct an audit of their payrolls each year to guard against pay disparities based on gender, race or ethnicity.

The Office of Personnel Management is considering a regulation to address the use of salary histories in hiring and setting compensation for federal workers.

“Banning the use of prior salary history can help break the cycle of past arbitrary and potentially discriminatory pay that can follow women and workers of color from job to job, entrenching gender and racial pay gaps over time,” the White House said in a statement announcing the moves.

Several states have enacted laws banning employers from asking prospective employees about their previous salaries, but such rules have never been implemented at the federal level.
 
The gender pay gap among federal employees has decreased considerably since 1999, according to a December 2020 study by the Government Accountability Office.
 
That study found that female federal employees earned 93 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. However, the same study found the pay gap is greater for women of certain ethnic groups, including Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians.
 
A White House fact sheet estimates that, on average, women earn about 83 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues in the public and private sectors.
 
In February, the U.S. women’s national soccer team reached a $24 million settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation in a lawsuit over equal pay. The settlement awarded the women back pay to put their income on the same level as male players and a commitment that women players will be paid at equal rates going forward. 

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