Employees’ Newfound Leverage

    Last month Governor Lamont signed legislation requiring employers to provide employees with wage ranges for positions in their companies. The idea is that with more transparency, wage gaps will be tightened and folks will be paid based on value rather than on gender. It’s a good idea and, based on studies, seems like it should work. 
    Employers need to know that the law is going into effect on October 1st, and there are severe penalties for those who don’t comply. This week I have written about employer obligations. Fall is fast approaching; if I can assist you or your clients in navigating this treacherous employment environment, please be in touch. I am grateful for the chance to help. 
The labor market is red-hot right now. We have an overheated economy presenting itself in many places including the labor market.
            Lots of jobs are chasing a few employees, and the result is that employees have lots of leverage in negotiating terms of employment. It is important for employees to assert the leverage they have because right now is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine the parameters of work and make them employee friendly before the market settles.
            One thing we have learned during the pandemic is that folks like to work their own schedules whenever possible. The idea of working Monday through Friday from 9-to-5 is so 1990s. These days, the promise of the internet and access to wide-ranging communications have made it possible to do lots of jobs from just about anywhere at just about any time.
            And, from what we have seen, employees have embraced this new freedom in large numbers.
            A few weeks ago I wrote about the four-day workweek. If you need a refresher, I said that a four-day workweek does not work if we simply cram five days of work into four days.
            A four-day work week works when employees are allowed to do their work at their own pace in order to produce a superior product. At least one study has shown that less work and more leisure makes for better workplace outcomes.
            Hours matter, but I guess jobs usually come down to money.
            In June, Governor Lamont signed into law “An Act Concerning the Disclsoure of Salary Ranges.” The new law, which goes into effect on October 1st, is part of the state’s continuing quest to close the pay gap caused by gender bias.
            The law will require certain employers to provide job applicants with a “wage range” for the position for which the applicant is applying. The range must be provided when the applicant requests it, or when an offer of compensation is made to the applicant (whichever comes first).
            The law by itself adds greater leverage to an employee seeking work and will allow an employee to use that range to negotiate more favorable terms in other areas such as hours and days of work, time off, and schedule security.
            The law does not just apply to applicants, though. It also applies to current employees. It requires employers to provide its employees with a wage range for the employee’s position when the employee is hired, when the employee’s position is changed, or when the employee requests the information.
            Employers need to be prepared to provide this information, and they should be working on it now. That is because an employer who fails to comply with the law will be subject to legal action for damages including payment of the employee’s attorney’s fees and costs, and for punitive damages.
            A “wage range” is defined under the statute as “the range of wages an employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for a position.” A wage range could be defined by a budget for the position, actual wages paid for the position, or a pay scale that is in effect.
            Now is the time for employees to start demanding to know their worth because they have leverage to do so. Employers need to be aware of their new obligations and adjust if they are going to fill important positions in their companies. 

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