HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) has proposed legislation to the Labor Committee that addresses gender wage discrimination in Connecticut by changing labor laws regarding employment. Citing his previous support of pay equity between men and women, he announced his interest in helping craft a bipartisan bill that addresses the issue with input from the business community.
At present, the Labor Committee has raised two bills regarding pay equity: Senate Bill 15 – An Act Concerning Fair and Equal Pay for Equal Work, and House Bill 5386 – An Act Concerning Various Pay Equity and Fairness Matters. Rep. Frey, a former Ranking Member of the Labor Committee, has long supported “equal pay for equal work,” having voted in favor of a labor bill addressing pay equity and fairness in 2015 that became law and a bill that passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
Rep. Frey specified a main component that he would like to see in a final bill, which is amending the 2015 labor law to insert a provision that keeps employers from docking a workers’ seniority because of time spent on leave because of pregnancy or protected family leave. He also would support a bill that contains a provision prohibiting employees from asking a prospective employee about their wage history before an offer of employment is made and accepted, and preventing an employee’s prior wage history from being used as a defense to a claim of wage discrimination.
“Building on past pay equity efforts, we want to address gender wage discrimination in Connecticut and find a bipartisan solution without restricting the ability of businesses to profit – a goal I think is possible with the framework I have submitted to amend labor laws,” said Rep. Frey. “While some elements of the wage gap – such as specific occupation and education level – are difficult to address with legislation, we should act where appropriate in order to ensure employees are treated fairly. I am working to add practical new language to our labor laws that would prevent employers from engaging in discriminatory hiring practices, whether the discrimination is intentional or not.”
In a related effort to help families and businesses, Rep. Frey is also seeking to enhance private sector employee benefits with a bill that would establish a tax credit for businesses that provide paid family and medical leave. HB 5103 was introduced by Rep. Frey and currently awaits action in the Finance Committee, which he sits on.
“Businesses benefit when employees are able to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, so we need to help make it financially viable for employers to offer programs like paid family and medical leave,” said Rep. Frey. “It is a model that rewards businesses who offer this benefit, rather than punishing those who don’t. Connecticut has a poor reputation as an anti-business state, so we need to proceed with practicality, which this bill would do.”
“Gender pay equity and paid family leave are two areas where the state could act this year in a way that offers protections and clear benefits to families, while also working towards creating an environment that is friendlier to business. I reject the notion that allowing businesses to thrive and demanding fair treatment of employees have to be mutually exclusive concepts.” added Rep. Frey.
As the 2018 session progresses, Rep. Frey says he intends to work with his colleagues from both parties to craft and advocate for legislation that helps working families.