Seyfarth Synopsis: On Equal Pay Day 2021, Seyfarth’s Global Pay Equity Group is pleased to release three reference guides: the 2021 U.S. 50-State Pay Equity Desktop Reference, the 2021 Developments in Pay Litigation Report, and introducing the Global Pay Equity Desktop Reference.

It’s Equal Pay Day 2021.  What a year it has been.

Equal Pay Day 2020 landed on the heels of stay-at-home orders. We, like many of you, were working from make-shift home offices with our new two- and four-legged co-workers  (some of whom were, ahem, roller-skating down the hallway during prep sessions).  While many of us are still working at home in offices that now feel a little less makeshift, the world seems like a completely different place from those early days of the pandemic. Both the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd have changed the world. Those changes have also had a significant impact on the pay equity landscape.

As look forward to the new world that 2021 and beyond presents, we see three key trends which are captured in Seyfarth’s Fifth Annual 50-State Pay Equity Desktop Reference, the 2021 Developments in Pay Litigation Report, and our Global Pay Equity Desktop Reference:

  • An acceleration of employer focus on equal pay.
    • Many employers redoubled efforts to address issues of systemic racial inequity and focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Within that framework, more employers than ever before have undertaken pay equity analyses. It has been our honor to stand with employers in taking these steps.
    • This work will also support employers’ efforts in the post-COVID world. Many workers who left the workforce due to the pandemic will hopefully return in droves. As setting starting pay is the most impactful decision that employers make, ensuring that new and returning hires are placed and paid equitably will be mission critical for employers who are committed to equal pay.
  • More pay reporting and disclosure, both in the U.S. and around the globe.
    • We have seen the passage of major pay equity laws both in the U.S. and around the globe. Seyfarth’s Fifth Annual 50-State Pay Equity Desktop Reference captures these changes. In the U.S., there have been major new pay equity laws passed in California, Colorado, and just yesterday, in Illinois.  Both the California law and the brand new Illinois law will require that employers report pay data.
    • We expect that pay equity laws and enforcement will accelerate in the Biden Administration. Our partner, Camille Olson, recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Education & Labor Committee; Workforce Protections Subcommittee on H.R. 7, the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”  A substitute “Paycheck Fairness Act” will be re-introduced today.  We will keep you informed as these major developments continue.
    • We have also seen the growth of pay laws around the globe. Our Global Pay Equity team examined the pay equity reporting laws in over 60 countries. Of those 64 countries, a remarkable 21 have pay equity reporting requirements. The dates and reporting requirements vary by country, but many of the countries have requirements within the first quarter of the year. We prepared the Global Pay Equity Desktop Reference to help identify the applicable timing requirements.
    • We are also seeing an uptick in international legislative initiatives aimed at pay equity, particularly in the EU. Most notably, the EU Commission recently proposed a directive that would require all EU employers across the EU’s 27 member states to adopt various measures to help foster gender pay equity. These measures include sharing workforce compensation information with employees and job applicants and requiring public gender pay gap reporting for companies with 250+ employees.
  • More litigation
    • We still see and have seen an increase in litigation under the federal Equal Pay Act and analogous state laws with noticeable focus on state law claims proving that wage disparity has been a big issue this year. Similarly, pay transparency raises questions about how to value or compare different compensation schemes for various positions when factoring in benefits, bonuses, commissions and other forms of compensation. Seyfarth’s 2021 Developments in Pay Litigation Report, details these developments.

All of the members of the Pay Equity Group look forward to working with you and partnering with you in navigating these issues in 2021 both in the U.S. and around the globe. We stand with you to support these efforts and look forward to seeing you — hopefully even in person — soon.

Christine Hendrickson and Annette Tyman, co-chairs of Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Group.