Rhode Island amended the state’s equal pay and transparency law in July 2021, with the amendments becoming effective January 1, 2023. On January 6, 2023, the state issued a clarifying final rule regarding the changes.
As amended, the state’s equal pay and transparency law prohibits employers with more than one employee from paying an employee less than past or current employees that perform identical or comparable work on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of origin. The clarifying rule notates that compensation unrelated to the performance of work, such as referral bonuses and relocation bonuses, are not included when examining pay differentials as long as the wages are supplementary to the primary job function and not a cause for unlawful wage disparities. Other types of incentive compensation that must be included in the assessment of pay differentials include recruitment bonuses, hiring bonuses, sign- on bonuses, gifts, and holiday bonuses.
Under the original law, RI employers are prohibited form inquiring about an applicant’s current or prior salary. The new rule clarifies that if an employer has access to current salary information, such as when hiring an existing employee for a new position, an employer may not use the current salary information when setting the wage or salary for the new role.
In addition, RI employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who request a wage range for their position, discuss their wage with others, or who file a complaint against an employer for failure to provide wage history or another violation of the law. The new regulations clarify that individuals who claim they have been retaliated against in violation of these provisions may file a complaint through the Department of Labor and Training. However, the new rule indicates the Department cannot issue fines for violations or complaints received prior to January 1, 2025.
Employer Next Steps
- Employers should review current practices and procedures to ensure compliance with the amendments and final rule of RI’s Pay Equity Law.
- If you would like information on how we can help creating pay bands/wage scales, please contact us.
- If you are a Full-Service or Virtual HR client and would like our assistance with updating your policy, please email us.
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This content is provided with the understanding that HR Knowledge is not rendering legal advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the state or municipality. The material is made available for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgment. You should review applicable laws in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this content, please contact HR Knowledge at 508.339.1300 or email us.