Obama Administration Proposes A Regulation to Solve A Problem It Can't See
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Labor Department is inviting the public to comment on its plan to collect information on salaries, wages and other benefits paid to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.
The new "compensation data tool" is intended to improve the government's ability to find evidence of possible pay discrimination.
"Pay discrimination continues to plague women and people of color in the workforce," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and a member of the president's National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force.
"This proposal is about gathering better data, which will allow us to focus our enforcement resources where they are most needed. We can't truly solve this problem until we can see it, measure it and put dollar figures on it," Shiu said.
In addition to providing federal investigators with insight into potential pay discrimination warranting further review, the proposed regulation would help employers assess their own compensation practices, the Labor Department said.
"Today, almost 50 years after the Equal Pay Act became law, the wage gap has narrowed, but not nearly enough," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The president and I are committed to ending pay discrimination once and for all."
‘Potential burdens for small business’
The Labor Department is seeking public input on 15 questions, including what kind of payroll data should be requested, how the data should be collect, how the data should be used, which contractors should be required to submit compensation data -- and "how the tool might create potential burdens for small businesses."
The public comment period runs for 60 days. The deadline for receiving comments is Oct. 11. The proposed regulation is printed in the Aug. 10 edition of the Federal Register.
Per executive order of the president, companies that do business with the federal government are prohibited from discriminating in employment practices, including compensation, on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion.
The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2010, women were paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. In addition to the gender gap, the Labor Department said its research has shown that race- and ethnicity-based pay gaps put workers of color, including men, at a disadvantage.