Over the past couple of weeks, I have not paid much attention to the happenings on social media. We were getting ready for vacation, then we were on vacation, then I was recovering from vacation, then we were gearing up for the first day of school. So, now that things have calmed I have been catching up on what I’ve missed. One of the things that caught my eye was a discussion in a blogger group about whether or not we should discuss rates with each other. While I don’t feel that we always have to get specific, I do feel that it’s important to have a few trusted friends that you can discuss rates with.

And it’s not just happening in blogging. Unfortunately, pay equality (or inequality) isn’t a new concept. The idea that workers should earn equal pay for doing the same work has been around for hundreds of years. With that background, it can be a bit frustrating that there are still struggles to make sure this equality happens. Today, there’s still a need to make sure that workers who do the same job earn the same amount of pay, even when there are differences in age, gender, disability, national origin, race, and other social groups.

This has consistently been a huge issue for women. Many women working in the same industries and jobs as men are not being paid

 

What Has Been Done Legally?

There have been a number of laws put into place on the books to protect workers. These include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Title VII section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Unfortunately, the Fair Pay Act reversed many of the protections won in the Lilly Ledbetter Act. However, the ongoing passage of new laws shows that many employers are still not providing consistent pay scales for their employees.

Interestingly enough, when I came back to my 9-5 job, in addition to my annual merit increase I received an additional raise that said “internal equity”. I’m hoping that more companies are now doing this so that workers are being paid fairly.

 

Issues Affecting the Disparity of Pay

There are many factors that complicate employees receiving equal pay. For example, employees often feel that their hard work should be rewarded by an increase in their pay or through incentives, such as bonuses.

As employees reach levels of seniority, they believe they’ve earned higher levels of pay through consistent raises. Most workers would agree with these perceptions until they compare their pay with a co-worker who seems to be getting paid more even though they are both still doing the same job. And many companies used to have rules against employees talking to each other about their salaries for this reason.

Other factors that may affect the level of pay include academic achievements, length of experience, additional training, level of performance, and maybe even the employee’s personal perception of their worth.

When employees feel they are not experiencing pay equality, they may slow down their own work or try to do less during the work day. Some workers may discourage other workers from trying harder and from working efficiently. Still, other workers may miss work frequently or show up late. These measures are bad for morale and are not helpful to employers or employees. It’s a tough position to be in. Feeling underpaid and undervalued is not good for self-confidence or work moral.

 

What Can Be Done?

This is a very touchy subject. However, there may be something that you can do. No one likes to feel that they are burning bridges or causing issues. But, if you feel that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, talk to them. You may be able to establish whether there is a pay difference and why. You may not agree with the situation, but you will have more information.

Next, reach out to your union and if you aren’t the member of a union, join one. Many women have found that simply belonging to a union has closed the pay cap by nearly ten cents on the dollar. You could also reach out to an employment tribunal or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or try some of the tactics recommended here.

Talking to your employer about your salary isn’t an easy thing to do. However, if you’re able to address the situation with tact and consideration, you’re more likely to achieve the results you want – even if it means involving officials outside of your workplace. It will be tough, but after it’s done you can decide from there if it is worth pursuing the issue, or moving on to another opportunity.

Whether you work a 9-5 job, do consulting, blogging, or other freelance jobs, it is important to know whether or not you are being paid fairly.