WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is marking Monday’s 15th anniversary of a landmark federal pay equity law with new action to help close gaps in pay for federal employees and employees of federal contractors.
Despite progress since the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law in January 2009, President Joe Biden said women who work outside the home are still paid an average of 84 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and that the pay disparities are greater for many women of color.
The Democratic president said the “common-sense” steps announced Monday “will help pay millions of workers fairly, close gender and racial wage gaps and yield tangible benefits for the federal government and federal contractors.”
The Office of Personnel Management is issuing a final rule to bar the government from considering a person’s current or past pay when determining their salary for federal employment. Administration officials said this step will help limit pay discrimination and ensure compensation is based on an applicant’s skills, experience and expertise.
A similar proposal will offer protections to those employed by federal contractors.
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is issuing a proposal to prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from seeking and considering information about a job applicant’s compensation history when hiring or setting pay for anyone who works on a government contract.
Kiran Ahuja, director of the federal personnel office, said on the same call that the government “does a pretty decent job” on wages compared with the private sector.
In 2022, the federal government had a 5.6% pay gap compared with 16% nationwide. The difference in pay in the most senior ranks of the federal government is below 1%, Ahuja said.
“The federal government is proud of this progress we’ve made,” she said. “But we also realize that any gap is unacceptable.”
The National Partnership for Women and Families said the 84 cents that women earn for every dollar paid to a man results in a gap of $9,990, a sum that could help a working woman pay for approximately 64 weeks of food, seven months of mortgage and utility payments, about nine months of rent or more than a year of additional child care.
This story has been corrected to show the spelling is Lilly, not Lily.