OPINION: Thanks to new NJ governor and Burlington County Freeholders for equal pay measures

A letter to the editor by Kelly Clark of Medford

In signing his first executive order, Governor Phil Murphy showed his commitment to equal pay for women. State agencies and offices are no longer allowed to ask job applicants about prior salaries or investigate their prior compensation.

Asking about previous salaries brings bias into the hiring process and puts women at a disadvantage. It perpetuates the earning divide and prevents women from from ever “catching up,” hence the never ending pay gap.

Instead, people should be paid for the value of the job they do and the skill set they can offer. The value of the job shouldn’t change whether a man does it or a woman does it. Equal pay for equal work is not a difficult concept.

By not relying on salary history, employers must provide a clear, market-based case for pay. Companies will have to be more transparent about their pay rates.

I’m grateful we have a governor who recognizes this and wants to make it right as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the executive order only applies to state agencies and offices. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have promised Governor Murphy that they will get equal pay legislation to him as soon as possible. It’s sad that we need legislation like this to remind people to do the right thing, but until the gender wage gap is closed we do need these laws.

With that said, I was very happy to see the Burlington County Freeholders pass a similar resolution for all jobs at the county level. This will promote fair and equal treatment for all county employees moving forward. It is nice to see the Freeholders follow the lead of our new governor. It’s a new day in New Jersey and a new day in Burlington County!

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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