Tag Archives: workers rights

Obama Administration Announces New Steps to Spur Competition in Labor Market and Accelerate Wage Growth


South San Francisco Industrial City: New actions by Obama address wage collusion, unnecessary non-compete agreements, and other anticompetitive practices in order to spur competition for consumers and workers © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
South San Francisco Industrial City: New actions by Obama address wage collusion, unnecessary non-compete agreements, and other anticompetitive practices in order to spur competition for consumers and workers © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New actions to address wage collusion, unnecessary non-compete agreements, and other anti-competitive practices respond to the President’s Executive Order issued on April 15, directing agencies to increase competition for consumers and workers.

“Today, we’re in the midst of the longest streak of job growth in U.S. history. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that in 2015, the typical household saw its income grow by 5.2 percent (about $2,800), the largest one-year increase on record,” the White House stated.

“At the same time, the President has made clear that there is still more work to do to reverse longer-run patterns of stagnant wage growth and rising income inequality. Over the past several decades, only the highest earners have seen steady wage gains; for most workers, wage growth has been sluggish and has failed to keep pace with gains in productivity. Over the same period, the share of national income going to labor has also fallen, and labor income itself has become divided increasingly unevenly.”

To ensure that workers share more fully in the gains they help create, the White House is announcing new steps in response to the President’s April 2016 Executive Order calling for actions that enhance competition to benefit consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs.

  • Issue Brief on How Monopsony Power Impacts Wages and Employment. The Council of Economic Advisers is releasing anew issue brief that reviews evidence that firms may have wage-setting power in a broad range of areas, explains how anticompetitive forces can lead to a redistribution of revenues from workers to companies, and reviews the policy implications of this analysis. 
  • Non-Compete Agreements: Call-to-Action to States, Largest-Ever Data Collection, and State-by-State Policy Report. Non-compete agreements narrow the employment options for an estimated one in five workers in the United States. As the White House andTreasury reported earlier this year, there is substantial evidence of overuse and misuse of these clauses. Today, the Administration put out a call to action and set of best practices for state policymakers to enact reforms to reduce the prevalence of non-compete agreements that are hurting workers and regional economies. To contextualize these best practices, the White House is releasing a state-by-state report on key dimensions of current state non-compete policy. Finally, we are announcing commitments to undertake the largest data collection of its kind to better measure non-compete usage by firms and individuals, alike.
  • Antitrust Guidance and Reporting Hotline for Human Resource Professionals. On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released guidance for HR professionals for how to spot and report collusion among competing employers that may violate the antitrust laws.  In the guidance, DOJ announced that going forward it will criminally investigate allegations that employers have agreed amongst themselves on employee compensation or not to solicit or hire one another’s employees.

These new actions complement the many other steps the Administration has advanced and supported to level the playing field for workers in the job market, including raising the minimum wage, advancing paid leave, supporting collective bargaining, and pushing to reform occupational licensing and land use restrictions.


Increasingly, researchers are reporting signs of declining U.S. labor market competition. Economists have begun exploring how these trends connect to rising income inequality. While recent discussions on television set-top boxes and airline tickets have focused on the ability of a small number of firms to set high prices, reduced competition in the labor market results in lower wages and greater earnings inequality, and can also result in lower employment.

There are many forces that can limit competition between firms and give employers some power to set wages below the market rate. In some cases, wage-setting power can result from employer actions—like collusion or the use of non-compete agreements—that artificially restrict competition. More generally, any factor that limits workers’ choices, restricts their mobility, or creates barriers to changing jobs can weaken workers’ bargaining position—which may force them to accept lower compensation or inferior working conditions. The data show that workers today are in many ways less mobile and less likely to switch jobs than they were 20 or 30 years ago.

One factor that contributes to trends in labor mobility is the amount of market power that employers can exercise in the labor market. When a small number of employers—or even one employer—wields a large share of market power, they can exercise so-called “monopsony power.”

Monoposonies are the other side of the coin to monopolies. Both reflect a company’s ability to affect markets in ways that would be impossible in competitive markets. Monopolies occur when companies have outsized market power, so they can set the price of a good or service at a level higher than if there was fair competition. Monopsonies occur when companies with power in labor markets can set the wages they pay at lower levels and hire fewer workers than if there was strong competition. These lower wages have real consequences for families and the economy more broadly.

Greater labor market competition can help promote efficiency and employment and ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared by all. In particular, increased labor market competition means:

  • Higher wages and more hiring. When businesses must compete for workers, they recruit workers and offer higher wages as long as the value of output they produce can support the going wage. Competition thus encourages employers to seek out all productive and efficient hiring opportunities and establishes a close link between wages and productivity. When there is strong competition, firms have no incentive to set wages below the market rate, because if they do, they will lose their workers to competing firms.
  • Greater economic opportunity and fairness for workers.  In a competitive labor market, wages are determined by the market, and are not subject to companies’ abuse of outsized bargaining power. But when firms have wage-setting power, they have an incentive to pay the lowest wage that workers are willing to accept. As a result, market power not only shifts revenues away from labor, toward managers and inflated profits; it also means that individuals who start out facing greater obstacles and fewer opportunities often end up being paid the least. Competition can help equalize wages across workers with similar skills and ensure a level playing field for all workers. 

Addressing Gross Overuse of Non-Compete Agreements

Earlier this year, the White House and Department of Treasury’s Office of Economic Policy released reports highlighting the negative impacts of unnecessary non-compete agreements and the actions states are taking to address them.

According to survey data, one in five U.S. workers is bound by a non-compete agreement, including 14 percent of workers making less than $40,000 per year. A considerable proportion of non-compete agreements signed by both low- and high-wage workers come at the expense of wage growth, entrepreneurship, and broader economic growth. Researchers have found that states that strictly enforce non-compete agreements have 10 percent lower average wages for middle-aged workers than states that do not.

The White House is announcing several new steps to reduce the misuse of non-compete agreements.

In addition to encouraging states to take action, the Administration also calls on Congress to pass federal legislation to eliminate non-competes for workers under a certain salary threshold, as in the Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees Act (MOVE Act), originally sponsored by Senators Al Franken and Chris Murphy, and in the Limiting the Ability to Demand Detrimental Employment Restrictions Act (LADDER Act). We call on Congress to consider this critical issue and the potential economic consequences of inaction.

  • Best Practices and Call to Action for States on Non-Compete Agreements. Elected officials in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Utah have signed on to support a call-to-action for state non-compete reform, below:

White House Best Practices for State Non-Compete Reform

In order to reduce the misuse of non-compete agreements in states that choose to enforce them, the White House is calling on state policymakers to join in pursuing best-practice policy objectives, including one or more of the following:

  1. Ban non-compete clauses for categories of workers, such as workers under a certain wage threshold; workers in certain occupations that promote public health and safety; workers who are unlikely to possess trade secrets; or those who may suffer undue adverse impacts from non-competes, such as workers laid-off or terminated without cause.
  2. Improve transparency and fairness of non-compete agreements by, for example, disallowing non-competes unless they are proposed before a job offer or significant promotion has been accepted (because an applicant who has accepted an offer and declined other positions may have less bargaining power); providing consideration over and above continued employment for workers who sign non-compete agreements; or encouraging employers to better inform workers about the law in their state and the existence of non-competes in contracts and how they work.
  3. Incentivize employers to write enforceable contracts, and encourage the elimination of unenforceable provisions by, for example, promoting the use of the “red pencil doctrine,” which renders contracts with unenforceable provisions void in their entirety.
  • State-by-State Explainer of Non-Compete Laws. To educate workers, employers, policymakers and advocates, the White House is issuing a report about existing state laws and some of the key issues related to non-compete agreement reform.
  • Employer Support to Eliminate Non-Competes for Most or All Employees. Across the country, businesses are eliminating non-compete agreements in favor of more targeted options. They are supporting a shift in non-compete policy because they recognize that fewer, more targeted non-compete agreements will likely increase their pool of available talent and improve innovation.
  • New Surveys to Examine Prevalence and Impact of Non-Competes, including:
  • Largest data collection effort ever undertaken on non-compete agreements. PayScale, a company that provides compensation data and software to employers and employees, has committed to collect new data to support the effort to better measure and understand the use of non-compete agreements. This commitment will include anonymously surveying thousands of firms on non-compete practices and asking millions of employees about their non-compete status.
  • In-depth survey on non-compete use. This upcoming year, researchers Evan Starr, Natarajan Balasubramanian, and Martin Ganco, with the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, plan to field an in-depth survey about non-compete usage and its impact on firm growth, employee mobility, and entrepreneurship. 

Curbing Collusion among Firms to Suppress Wages and Limit Worker Mobility

Increased market concentration of firms can also facilitate collusive agreements that allow a small number of employers, who compete over the same workforce, to artificially suppress wages below market rates or agree not to hire one another’s employees. Like price fixing in product markets, collusion among employers to reduce wages is illegal in the U.S. and subject to anti-trust laws.

These types of agreements eliminate competition in the same irredeemable way as agreements to fix the prices of goods or allocate customers, which have traditionally been criminally investigated and prosecuted as cartel conduct. As FTC Chairwoman, Edith Ramirez puts it, “Competition is essential to well-functioning markets, and job markets are no exception.”

In 2014, eight Silicon Valley employers settled a civil class action suit for $415 million for allegedly colluding to suppress the wages of programmers and engineers.  Specifically, the suit pointed to evidence of “no-poaching” arrangements in which the firms agreed not to engage in competitive recruiting of each other’s workforces.  Other suits, filed in five metropolitan areas across the country, have alleged collusive behavior among hospitals to suppress the wages of nurses. For example, in Detroit, eight hospitals reached settlements that amounted to roughly $90 million in total for alleged collusion to lower wages below market rates.

This past week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new guidance aimed at combatting collusive behavior in the employment arena. Additionally, in a recentspeech, Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse highlighted existing DOJ policy that “a merger that gives a company the power to depress wages or salaries to reduce the prices it pays for inputs is illegal whether or not it also gives that company the power to increase prices downstream.” 

Antitrust Guidance and Hotline for Human Resources Professionals to Identify and Report Wage Collusion.

  • Human Resources (HR) professionals are often in the best position to ensure that their companies’ hiring practices comply with the law. Last week, the DOJ and the FTC released guidance for HR professionals for how to spot and report collusion among competing employers that may violate the antitrust laws.
  • In the guidance, DOJ announced that going forward it will criminally investigate allegations that employers have agreed among themselves on employee compensation or not to solicit or hire one another’s employees. In the press release announcing the guidance, Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse stated: “HR professionals need to understand that these violations can lead to severe consequences, including criminal prosecution. The newly released joint guidance provides HR professionals with information to prevent violations and report potentially unlawful activity, furthering the Justice Department’s commitment to protect workers from harmful conduct that stifles competition.”

Building on Progress


Today’s actions build on a series of steps the Administration has taken to reduce barriers to fair wages and labor practices, including:

  • Raising the minimum wage. It has been nearly a decade since Congress last took action to raise the minimum wage, which remains at $7.25 per hour. Since the President started calling for a higher minimum wage in 2013, 18 states and DC have taken action to raise wages, which CEA estimates will benefit over 7 million people by 2017. Over 60 cities and counties have also taken action on their own. These increases help push back against downward pressure on wages.
  • Expanding paid sick leave. Policies that support minimum benefits are an important complement to minimum wage laws, especially when employers have enhanced power in the labor market. That is why President Obama expanded paid sick leave to federal employees with new children and to federal contract workers to care for themselves, a family member, or another loved one. He continues to call on Congress to pass legislation that guarantees most Americans the chance to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year—and urges states, cities and businesses to act where Congress has not.
  • Supporting worker voice. When workers have a say in their wages and working conditions, they can help ensure that they see a fair share of the economic returns to their labor. In October 2015, the Administration underscored the importance of worker voice by bringing together workers, employers, unions, worker advocates, and others to the White House Summit on Worker Voice. 
  • Reforming occupational licensing requirements and improve portability across states. In 2015, the White House, Treasury Office of Economic Policy, and Department of Labor issued a report on evidence that occupational licensing requirements raise the price of goods and services, restrict employment opportunities, and make it more difficult for workers to take their skills across state lines.  Following this report, the Administration has worked with Congress, state legislators, and experts to draft and present a series of best practices to help state and local governments better tailor their occupational licensing laws. To date, legislators in at least 11 states have proposed no fewer than 15 reforms in line with these recommendations, and four state bills have passed so far.
  • Reforming land use regulations. Over-burdensome land use regulations have made it hard for housing markets to respond to growing demand, jeopardizing housing affordability for working families and limiting GDP growth by stifling labor mobility to the most productive regions. Earlier this year, the White House released a Housing Development Toolkit that highlights the steps communities have taken to modernize their housing strategies and expand options and opportunities for hardworking families.



White House Highlights Actions to Expand Paid Sick Leave, Gather Data to Fight for Equal Pay

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez discussed two new actions to support working Americans. First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is collecting data to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.  She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job.  A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.”— President Barack Obama, 2014 State of the Union Address 

Today the White House is highlighting two new actions to further support working Americans.   First, the Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  Second, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is publishing its final and approved collection of summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees to improve enforcement of our nation’s equal pay laws.

In a White House conference call with reporters, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania applauded the Administration’s actions, noting that he has been in public office for less than two years, but prior, “I was a business owner, employed up to 600-700 employees. We did all these things – paid sick leave, personal time off, holidays, long vacation time. These were not a cost to the business, they made business sense with lower turnover, better morale, healthier employees, better productivity.

“One of the things we must acknowledge: it’s not just a fair thing, a matter of public health, public good, but something that is good for business. “

More than one million workers will not have to depend on the kindness of employers because of these new rules. “Workers shouldn’t have to win the boss lottery or geographic lottery to win access to paid sick leave,” commented Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang.

Contrary to the “sky is falling” reaction of many private employers, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez noted, in places where earned sick leave has been implemented – including San Francisco, Tacoma Washington, New York City and Connecticut – employers are by a wide margin satisfied.  “When the law into effect [in these places] they had trepidation, but what they saw was that were able to adjust and in fact thrive.” Indeed, customers may be miffed if a waiter sneezes on their plate; other employees can be taken ill because of a worker with a flu could not afford to stay home.

“The beauty of incubators of innovation like Philadelphia, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Tacoma is that we have track record to build on and tremendous confidence that building on this part of the social contract is both good for workers, public health, families and not an undue burden on business.

“Bringing fairness and balance to workplace is really not something that should be seen as expense.”

FACT SHEET: Helping Working Americans Get Ahead by Expanding Paid Sick Leave and Fighting for Equal Pay

Since taking office, President Obama has promoted policies to grow and strengthen the middle class by supporting working families.  Despite tremendous changes that have transformed America and its families over the past 50 years, our workplaces have not kept pace.  In most families today, both parents work and share in the responsibilities of caring for children or other family members. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that these efforts have resulted in strong progress for America’s working families.  Today, a record share of private sector workers now have access to paid sick leave, increasing from 61 to 64 percent over the past year.  Furthermore, this increase was driven almost entirely by increased access in low-wage jobs: in just one year, the share of workers in the lowest-paid quarter of occupations that had access to paid sick leave jumped from 31 to 39 percent.  Since the President took office, the number of private sector workers with paid sick leave has grown by 10.6 million.

Despite this progress, millions of Americans still do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave, so when workers get sick they may have to choose between caring for themselves or paying their bills.  Too many parents must make the painful choice between staying home to take care of a sick child—and losing out on a day’s pay—or sending their child to school sick.  For that reason, President Obama has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act—which would guarantee most Americans the chance to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave each year—and urging states, cities, and businesses to act where Congress has not.

Similarly, despite a woman’s pay being just as critical for a family to make ends meet, women make less than their male peers.  The President has fought to close that gap, and the first legislation he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an important step in ensuring that Americans can effectively challenge unequal pay in the courts.  Since then, he has taken numerous other steps to advance equal pay, including issuing a 2014 Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss their pay, and announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge that has now been signed by more than 50 of America’s leading businesses.

Similar to the expansion of paid sick leave, progress has been made on the gender pay gap.  In 2008, a typical woman working full-time earned only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a typical man; today, that has risen to 80 cents.  That means that for a woman working full-time, the pay gap has shrunk by more than 10 percent, or about $1200, since the President took office.

Yet much work remains.  Too many women and workers of color are still not paid equally for equal work, with African-American women earning 63 cents and Latina women earning 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic man.  And 41 million private sector workers do not have access to even a single day of paid sick leave.   Today’s actions mark critical progress to support the needs of working Americans and their families.


Last September, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring federal contractors (and subcontractors) to allow their employees working on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days each year.  Today, the Department of Labor is finalizing its rule implementing the order.  It takes into account extensive public comments from employers, business associations, small businesses, workers, unions, and worker advocates.  The final rule, which goes into effect for new solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, will:

  • Give additional paid sick leave to 1.15 million people working on federal contracts, including nearly 600,000 employees who do not currently have even a single day of paid sick leave.  Workers will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on (or in connection with) a covered federal contract, up to 56 hours in a year or at any point in time.
  • Allow workers to use paid sick leave for their own illnesses, preventive care, or other health care needs; to care for a family member or loved one who is ill, seeking preventive care, or otherwise in need of care; and for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Employers may not retaliate against employees for using paid sick leave or require them to find replacements in order to take it.
  • Improve the health and performance of employees of federal contractors and bring benefits packages offered by federal contractors in line with leading firms, ensuring they remain competitive in the search for dedicated and talented employees.
  • Protect public health by reducing the transmission of illnesses in the workplace from sick employees to coworkers or their customers.
  • Respond to employers’ concerns by ensuring coordination with existing “paid time off” policies that give workers a flexible bank of leave; existing collective bargaining agreements; and multi-employer plans. 

This action reflects leading practices by major employers, states, and localities throughout the country.  Since the President’s call to action in 2014, four states and more than 25 cities and counties have taken action to expand paid sick leave in their community, and many businesses small and large have adopted similar policies.  For example:

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota passed ordinances in May and September, respectively, requiring businesses to offer their workers an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Both ordinances go into effect on July 1, 2017 with phased implementation periods.  The Twin Cities have a joint population of nearly 700,000 residents, though the ordinances cover anyone who does work within the respective city limits.
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), a nonprofit clean energy consulting company and federal contractor in Vermont, testified in support of Vermont’s new paid sick leave law, passed earlier this year.  VEIC’s founder pointed to the monetary, physical, and cultural value of paid sick leave to employers.
  • Cava Grill, a fast-casual national restaurant brand headquartered in Washington, DC, announced in July that it began offering paid sick and parental leave to its hourly workers, for whom it also raised its starting wage to $13 an hour.  Employees will now receive up to six days a year of paid sick leave, up to four days of paid parental leave, and one day for community service.
  • Microsoft, a federal contractor, took a similar step last year by announcing it would require suppliers with at least 50 employees doing business with the company to provide employees who handle its work with 15 days of paid leave annually (including 5 paid sick days).  In announcing this change, Microsoft pointed to research showing that paid leave contributes to the health and well-being of workers and their families, strengthens family ties, increases productivity, improves retention, lowers health-care costs, and contributes to the health of colleagues.


Today, the EEOC, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, is publishing its finalized revisions to its EEO-1 form, which for the first time will collect summary pay data, broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity, from all businesses with 100 or more employees.  This data collection, which stems from a recommendation by the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in 2014, is expected to cover roughly 63 million employees and 60,000 employers.

Today’s action will promote improved voluntary compliance by employers with existing equal pay laws.  It will also help EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) better focus investigations on employers who are illegally shortchanging workers’ pay based on their gender, race, or ethnicity.

The data will be a tool not only for the federal government, but for employers as well.  It will help employers evaluate their own pay practices to prevent pay discrimination in their workplaces.  The EEOC will also compile and publish aggregate data that will help employers in assessing their pay practices relative to others in the same industry and geographic area.

Businesses have long used the EEO-1 form to report demographic information on their workforces.  With the revised EEO-1, businesses also will report summary data on the range of compensation paid to employees of each demographic group.  Businesses will not be required to disclose individual employees’ salaries.

Employers will first be required to submit pay data for 2017 by March 31, 2018, giving them 18 months to prepare for the change.  This revision does not impact the 2016 EEO-1 report, which is due on September 30, 2016 and is unchanged.  EEOC will be offering webinars and technical assistance to employers, payroll and human resource information system providers, and other stakeholders in preparation for the new submission requirements.

Today’s publication of the revised form comes after the EEOC approved this action by a vote of the Commission, and follows final approval by the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act.  The EEOC is an independent government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.


Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken a number of actions to support working families and combat the pay gap, including:

  • Publishing a final regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The program provides subsidies to working families and last year provided services for roughly 1.4 million children aged 0-13, most of whom are younger than 5. The rule, which has not been comprehensively revised since 1998, will provide a roadmap to states on how to implement the new law and clarify ambiguities around provisions that deal with eligibility for services; health and safety requirements; and how best to support the needs of parents and providers as they transition to the new law.  It also clarifies that worker organizations can provide professional development to child care workers and contribute to discussions around the rates states set for subsidies.
  • Signing his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pair Act, in January 2009 making it easier for employees to challenge unfair pay practices.
  • Creating the National Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010 to implement his pledge to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, which included representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management. The Task Force has issued reports on its progress, including Fighting for Equal Pay in the Workforce, Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, and Fifty Years After the Equal Pay Act.  In addition, since the creation of the Equal Pay Task Force in 2010, the EEOC has received over 18,000 charges of sex-based pay discrimination, and through its independent enforcement efforts, the EEOC has obtained over $140 million in monetary relief for victims of pay discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes in the defenses for equal pay violations, providing stronger remedies, and expanding protections against discrimination for employees who share or inquire about information about their compensation at work.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in May 2013 directing the Office of Personnel Management to develop a government-wide strategy to address the gender pay gap in the federal workforce, leading to a report in April 2014 and new guidance in July 2015—which cautioned against reliance on a candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as it can potentially adversely affect women who may have taken time off from their careers or propagate gaps due to discriminatory pay practices by previous employers.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in April 2014 and publishing a Department of Labor rule in September 2015 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss or inquire about their compensation.
  • Announcing a White House Equal Pay Pledge, with more than 50 leading businesses signing on to take action to advance equal pay.  By signing the pledge, these companies are committing to conduct an annual company-wide gender pay analysis, review hiring and promotion processes, embed equal pay efforts in broader equity initiatives, and identify and promote best practices that will close the wage gap.
  • Hosting a White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, highlighting the issues that women and families face, setting the agenda for a 21st century workplace, and announcing of a number of steps to help working families thrive.
  • Hosting the United State of Women Summit in June 2016, highlighting the progress that has been made over the course of this Administration and discussing public and private sector solutions to the challenges that still lie ahead.
  • Signing a Presidential Memorandum in January 2015 directing federal agencies to advance six weeks of paid sick leave to federal employees with new children, calling on Congress to grant another six weeks of paid leave for federal employees, and calling on Congress to pass legislation that gives all American families access to paid family and medical leave.
  • Publishing a final Department of Labor rule in May updating outdated overtime regulations, expanding overtime pay protections to 4.2 million additional Americans, boosting wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, and allowing workers to better balance their work and family obligations.
  • Issuing an Executive Order in February 2014 requiring federal contractors to raise their minimum wage initially to $10.10 an hour, indexing it, and lifting the tipped minimum wage (which disproportionately impacts women)—and urging Congress, states, cities, and businesses to do the same.
  • Directing the Office of Personnel Management and federal agencies to enhance workplace flexibility for federal employees to the maximum extent practicable, including enshrining a right to request flexible work arrangements.
  • Signing into law the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which requires agencies to support and establish policies for telework by eligible employees.
  • Calling on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation would also prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.
  • Finalizing a Department of Labor rule updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors for the first time since 1978, to align with current law and address barriers to equal opportunity and pay, such as pay discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, a lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant women, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.
  • Announcing the Department of Labor’s award of $54 million in “Strengthening Working Families” grants to help low- to middle-skilled parents access the affordable, quality child care they need to earn an education, participate in training programs, and compete for better-paying jobs in emergency industries.
  • Expanding access for women to higher-paying jobs through a proposed rule updating equal employment opportunity requirements in registered apprenticeships and through a Mega-Construction Projects (MCP) Initiative at the Department of Labor.