Democratic presidential candidate and current California Senator Kamala Harris offered up her new plan to counter the gender wage gap on Monday by unveiling measures that would fine corporations that don’t provide equal pay for their female employees.
The new plan would remove the burden usually put on female employees facing legal battles against their bosses, and possible repercussions from speaking out, by requiring that companies submit data each year proving that they are paying men and women equally. The proposal, described by her campaign as “the most aggressive equal pay proposal in history,” is a revolutionary concept in this way and seeks to model itself after a new plan that went into effect in Iceland last year.
Harris said in an interview with CNN on Monday,
“It should not be on a working woman to prove it. It should instead be on that large corporation to prove they’re paying people for equal work equally.”Kamala Harris
Under this plan, companies would be required to attain an “equal pay certification” from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and then display the proper credentials for current and future potential employees to see. According to the latest Census Bureau data women in America who are working full time make about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes- lower still for black and Hispanic women.
To meet the requirements to achieve certification, companies must “demonstrate they have eliminated pay disparities between women and men who are doing work of equal value,” says Harris’ campaign. “To the extent pay disparities do exist for similar jobs, companies will be required to show the gap is based on merit, performance, or seniority ― not gender.”
Harris’ plan says that any company with 100 or more employees would have to get certified within three years from the law’s original date and then re-up their certification every two years following, with companies larger than 500 employees being expected to comply within two years from the law’s enactment and then following the two year recertification program after. Failure to gain certification would result in fines varying for each pay gap percentage displayed each fiscal year.
The Kamala Harris campaign believes the plan could initially generate about $180 billion over 10 years and Harris would like to use some of that to help finance a new national paid family and medical leave program since there is currently no such U.S. program in place.
Harris’ plan doesn’t stop at just the pay gap problem. It addresses leadership and earnings as companies would be expected to operate at a new transparency level where those issues are concerned by reporting statistics each year that give new information about their treatment and employment of women.
House Democrats already passed a bill this year trying to close the gender pay gap. The legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act, seeks to eliminate pay inequality by altering the Fair Labor Standards Act, but GOP opposition has stalled it in the Senate and it is unlikely to even get to a vote. This being said, Harris’ plan will likely face the same scrutiny and stalling if she makes it to the Oval Office in 2020.
Republicans seem to be more worried about lawsuits than equal pay, with Republican National Committee spokeswoman Blair Ellis saying recently, “We don’t need to strap new regulations, burdens, or fines on businesses to create opportunities for women, and President Trump’s economic record is a testament to that.”