AUGUSTA – A new bill that aims to reduce the wage gap between women and men in Maine is awaiting a decision by Governor LePage.
A study by the National Partnership for Women and Families says that, on average, women make about 80 cents for every dollar that a man makes in Maine. A new piece of legislation aims to change that.
“Women have been fighting for economic equality for years, and the way that we succeeded in getting the vote and succeeded in getting access to higher education, all the advances women have made it’s because we passed laws,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth. “And that’s what I’m hoping, that this law will be a part of that history.”
LD 1259, “An Act Regarding Pay Equality”, would ban employers from asking applicants how much they earned in previous jobs, which Sen. Breen says may lead to a lower wage offer.
“We’re hoping this legislation will stop that, and then the job will be paid according to qualifications, market value, credentials, experience, things like that,” Sen. Breen said.
While supporters of the bill say that it will help level the playing field, but opponents say that it would just create more confusion for business owners.
“It’s going to confuse the process,” said Sen. Amy Volk, R-Cumberland. “It’s going to put employers, particularly small employers who may not have [Human Resources] departments, at risk of accidentally violating the law.”
Sen. Volk says that the gender wage issue is already being covered under existing laws, making this additional law unnecessary.
“We need to teach our young women to negotiate for themselves. That is something that I hope my daughters know how to do, that’s something I feel capable of doing. I don’t feel that we need any sort of special legislation to do that.”
The bill is now in the hands of Governor LePage.