What California’s just-signed equal pay act really means

California, that great state, has done something we wholly endorse. The state has had a whirlwind week of landmark legislation, including the signing into law of a right-to-die bill and now a newly-signed fair pay act, that is one of the most progressive in the country. Here’s a breakdown of the new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

Employers must be transparent

The bill-turned-law will require employers to explain any pay gaps between employees, proving that the gap is based on a difference in seniority or acquired skills and not based on gender.

The standard for what merits equal pay has been lowered

Instead of requiring that, say, two employees do “equal work” for equal pay, the new law lowers the threshold to “substantially similar work” for equal pay. That means that two employees don’t have to be 10 for 10 in terms of the tasks they do to receive equal pay. They can share 7/10 or 8/10 of the same job responsibilities and still qualify for equal pay.

Employees gain the right to ask about pay

The new fair pay act will protect employees who either ask about or investigate how much their fellow employees are getting paid or who share how much compensation they’re receiving with others.

The bill was supported by both Republicans and Democrats

There are a lot of differences between Republicans and Democrats, but if California’s new law is any indication, both sides can agree that women are a significant—and oftentimes undervalued—part of the American workforce. So, it was truly amazing to see that members of both parties in the California Senate unanimously passed this new bill, regardless of their political beliefs.

“This is a momentous day for California, and it is long overdue,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the legislator who introduced the newly-signed bill in early 2015. “Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California. Today, California leads the nation in showing how it can be done.”

Agreed! Let’s hope that in the very near future more states — and the federal government — will follow in the Golden State’s footsteps.

Related reading: 

Pope Francis states his support for gender equality in the workplace

Jennifer Lawrence’s $20 million fight for equal pay

[Image via Shutterstock]